North America’s 10 Oldest Chinatowns
Chinese New Year has arrived. For those looking to ring in the Year of the Monkey, you don’t have to hop a plane to have an authentic experience. From New York to San Francisco, North America is full of historic and fun-filled pockets of Chinese culture. Here’s how to celebrate at 10 of the oldest.
1. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
What to do: The line out the door at Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown should tip you off that it has some of the best food in town; get there early for egg custard tarts before they run out. Around the time of the mid-autumn festival, Golden Gate is also the best place for moon cakes. Further immerse yourself in the culture at The Chinese Historical Society of America.
2. VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
What to do: Victoria's Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, measures 35 inches across. Although the street is a popular tourist destination in its own right, there's much more to do than take arm-stretching selfies: The alley and surrounding streets are full of tea, clothing, and souvenir shops.
3. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
What to do: Now, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities have been incorporated into Seattle's International District. Visit the Wing Luke Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, to learn about the Pan-Asian experience in the U.S.
4. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
What to do: The restaurant Hop Louie is housed in a bright yellow, five-level pagoda built in 1941. Head straight for the bar and order a Scorpion bowl.
5. HONOLULU, HAWAII
What to do: Dr. Sun Yat-sen Park celebrates the Chinese leader, who spent his formative years on Oahu, and features a sculpture of him as a 13-year-old boy. Honolulu is a sister city of Zhongshan, where Dr. Sun was born.
6. NEW YORK, NEW YORK
What to do: Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which opened in 1920, is still owned by the same family and is the oldest continually-run dim sum place in the city. Go hungry.
7. PORTLAND, OREGON
What to do: The Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland features plants like orchids, peonies, and bamboo; there's also a traditional Chinese-style teahouse.
8. MONTREAL, QUEBEC
What to do: This Chinatown is home to four paifang, or arches, one facing each cardinal direction. In particular, the bright red southern arch is a popular selfie site.
9. VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
What to do: The striking Canadian Chinese Monument on Keefer Street was built to honor the many Chinese immigrants who built Canada's national railway as well as the Chinese men who fought for Canada in World War II.
10. CALGARY, ALBERTA
What to do: Head to Dragon City Mall for textiles, home goods, sweets, and other products sent straight from the mainland.