The Chinatown Dragon Gate

Originally, the general consensus was that the southern border of Chinatown was Pine Street. By the 1920s, Bush Street had become more accurate. Even Dashiell Hammett points that out in his classic mystery novel ‘The Maltese Falcon’ when Sam spade takes a cab to the spot where his detective partner Miles Archer was murdered. {Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown, Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab. San Francisco’s night-fog, thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred the street}. In 1968, construction began on the Chinatown Dragon Gate at Grant Avenue and Bush, a gift from Taiwan, permanently establishing Bush Street as the southern gateway to Chinatown. The gate was completed in 1970, and is probably the most photographed spot in Chinatown. Yesterday’s post Pandemic visitors were back here with their cameras, including me. (Thumbnail images)

This is where {Bush Street (roofs the Stockton Tunnel) before slipping downhill to Chinatown} and Grant Avenue where the Dragon Gate is. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

These two pre Dragon Gate pictures show the view from Bush Street looking up Grant Avenue to Pine Street. They show a lively, although not completely Chinese in theme, stretch of block. The first picture is the cover of a recent book, definitely on my bucket list, and the second one is from the San Francisco Pictures Blog.

Before the Dragon Gate, there was another gateway erected here at Bush Street, as seen in this picture from the 1930s, but I haven’t found a lot of information about it yet.

The rest of the vintage pictures were taken by photographer, Vince Maggiora, for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper during construction of the Dragon Gate from 1968 to after its completion in 1970. Here you’re looking northeast from Bush Street and Grant Avenue in 1969:

The view from the southeast corner of Grant Avenue and Bush Street: I’ll bet there was a lot of burger and soda breaks among the crew.

Looking back through the gate to the southeast corner of Grant Avenue and Bush Street during construction:

Looking south down Grant Avenue toward Bush Street in 1971, after the gate’s completion:

Driving and walking through the Chinatown Dragon Gate, seen here in Vince Maggiora’s 1972 picture, has become another San Francisco must-do.









3 thoughts on “The Chinatown Dragon Gate

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