Chinatown at Night

Thursday, March 7, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Chinatown at Night retro postcard

Chinatown at Night
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of the Orient. Oriental customs rub elbows with the thoroughly American and quaint Chinese patter is heard everywhere you go. Shops and bazaars bring all the glamour of the Orient with their gorgeous silks, lacquers, teak, porcelain and rare and exotic foods and perfumes.

Pub. by Smith News Co., 75 Williams Ave., San Francisco 24 Calif

“Plastichrome” by Colourpicture, Boston 15, Mass., U.S.A.
P4676 (mid-1950s)

Note: the language on this card is certainly seen as politically incorrect today. Items are oriental. Individuals, and descriptions thereof including their customs, are Asian. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Wikipedia notes that the change in the term started in the 1970s. Now, of course, the entire discussion makes me think of that song from Avenue Q. Which is now stuck in my mind, an earworm, thank you very much.

As you can imagine, San Francisco’s Chinatown is still very much in existence today. They even have a website. Wikipedia says  San Francisco’s is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia.

Awhile back I read a book on the plague in San Francisco, by Marilyn Chase, entitled The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco (here on You all know how much I love reading about a good old fashioned plague! I think I actually had that book stashed from when I was in the graduate public history program at Western Michigan University. It’s an interesting story, as cultural norms played into some of the disease transmission. In areas of high (recent or new) immigrant concentration, there is always the potential for misunderstanding. Lack of understanding and trust goes a long way to allow for disease and fear to spread. In fact, now that I think about it, nearly every horrible thing suffered by the human race stems from a basic lack of understanding and/or lack of trust.

San Francisco Chinatown

Photo Courtesy of San Francisco Sightseeing Tour website

Interested in visiting San Francisco’s Chinatown? Don’t feel like walking? The above image is from Airport Commuter’s San Francisco Sightseeing Tour website.

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