My take on Len-Artist Challenge, A One Lens Walk
San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of my favorite places in the Bay Area – maybe even the world.
I try to visit Chinatown a couple times a month. When I was young, single, living in The City and didn’t know better I visited multiple times a week, usually stopping at a little bar on Ross Alley, called the Rickshaw Lounge. It was across the alley from Danny’s Dynasty. Both joints were divey (Danny’s looked downright dangerous) and the alley itself had an air of assault and battery to it.
Didn’t know better? I sometimes closed that place down, particularly when I was dating Hyung Suk, one of the hostesses who worked there. It must’ve been nice to be young and have the vigor, or bad sense, to leave a bar at 2 in the morning when you have to get up 4 hours later to get ready for work.
That was during the 1970’s, when 2 rival Chinatown gangs, the Wah Ching and the Joe Boys were feeling their oats. In 1977, 5 members of the Joe Boys shot up the Golden Dragon Restaurant on Washington Street just around the corner from Ross Alley.
I guess my love conquered all, even common sense.
The Golden Dragon is gone now, replaced by another restaurant. The dives are also gone, replaced by … It’s hard to say what replaced the bars. There’s no indication of a saloon ever having been on that alley. Now housing a florist, a fortune cookie shop, a gospel center, and a neon bedecked boba shop, Ross is hardly foreboding anymore.
The Chinatown alleys are fascinating places. I cut through them often to avoid the crowds on the main streets, or well, just because. The old mystique is of opium dens, brothels, and gambling parlors.
Indeed you can still walk through an alley at night and hear the clattering tiles and animated voices that mark a Mahjong game.
I usually carry three lenses with me when I walk through Chinatown; a wide angle, a 70 – 300 mm zoom, and the usual go to, an 18 – 135mm zoom.
All of the photos in this post were taken through the 18 – 135.
St. Louis Street is a dark little dead end alley. It’s home to the Waiyang Benevolent Association, Leung’s White Crane Dragon & Lion Dance Association, and two or three other businesses which I might be able to name if I could read Chinese characters.