I walk through Chinatown twice a day on my way to work. It's crowded, and loud and can be really dirty. But, it's also one of the most colorful, mysterious and oldest neighborhoods in SF. People have been living in this part of San Francisco for more than 150 years. William Richardson constructed the first permanent residence this side of town in 1836. In the 1850's the neighborhood was home to a growing Chinese immigrant population, but was known as the Barbary Coast. This infamous neighborhood was home to gambling dens, countless bars, sex workers and any other form of vice you can think of. Destroyed completely by the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the neighborhood was rebuilt as a tourist-centered immigrant center, and Chinatown took shape.
Today, brightly colored buildings, red lanterns and colorful street art cover the dense neighborhood. Chinatown is the densest neighborhood in SF, and is home to a thriving Chinese community. It's constantly fighting the forces of gentrification. The City is evolving, but Chinatown is much the same. It's nice to take a few minutes and appreciate that my commute (as much as some days I feel totally over it) can be inspiring. Even after 10 years in The City, I still feel lucky to call it home.