CALA NCA Chapter visited San Francisco Chinatown on April 30, 2016. We had 17 people attend. The tour started at the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) The building was originally a Chinatown YWCA designed by Julia Morgan (1872-1957), an architect who integrated Chinese motifs with the framework of western architecture. CHSA is the oldest and largest archive and history center documenting the Chinese American experience in the United States. Now the place is a community cultural center, perfectly set up for meetings/presentations, performances and exhibits.
After a delicious dim sum lunch break at the Saint Mary’s Square park, we headed to the Pacific Heritage Museum. The Museum is housed in the historic US Subtreasury Building, dating from 1875 and built on the site of the first US Branch Mint. The building is recognized as a historical landmark by both the state of California and the city of San Francisco. In 1984 the building was restored in order to house the Pacific Heritage Museum. The Museum celebrates the heritage and achievements of the people living along the Pacific Rim. We saw a replica of a bank vault used during the buildings operation as a part of the Treasury Department. There is also a display of a collection of rare, antique silver coins.
After that we went to the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. The Center has a gallery, book shop, classroom and offices. Established in 1965 to foster the understanding and appreciation of Chinese and Chinese American art, history, and culture in the United States. At the gallery we saw a documentary showing the life of early Chinese immigrants and a couple interesting modern Chinese artworks.
We also stopped by the Fortune Cookie Factory. The Factory opened on August 5, 1962 and remains one of the only places you can still find handmade fortune cookies in the country. There were 2 women placing fortunes in the hot cookies, then folding the cookies before they harden. You get a sample when you go in and the cookie is still warm, couldn’t be fresher.
Lastly we visited the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. It contains historical and explanatory exhibits on the San Francisco cable car system. The museum is part of the complex that also houses the cable car power house, which drives the cable cars. It is fascinating to see how the cable cars are operated. The museum is regarded as a working museum.
The tour ended with everyone learning something from the past. It was truly an educational and informational visit.