A Neon Sign Tour of San Francisco's Chinatown

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

People celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown Feb. 9, 2005 in San Francisco, with the Buddha Lounge's neon sign at left.
People celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown Feb. 9, 2005 in San Francisco, with the Buddha Lounge's neon sign at left.  (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, San Francisco Neon presents the second part of their virtual Chinatown neon sign tour in partnership with the Chinese Historical Society of America. Through the examination of the architecture and design of the neighborhood's many still-existing neon signs, the tour tells stories of a culture, its traditions and its history.

This tour falls not just around the Lunar New Year, but in a moment that has called increased attention to anti-Asian and anti-Chinese racism across the country, and particularly in the Bay Area. The past several weeks have seen a sharp spike in hate crimes against elderly Asian individuals in the East Bay.

One such attack, the Jan. 28 assault of Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco, was captured on video. The 84-year-old Ratanapakdee was seen being shoved to the ground in the disturbing viral clip during his morning walk, and died days later. In response to the attacks, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced the creation of a special response unit on Tuesday that will investigate crimes against Asian Americans, particularly those against the elderly.

Community organizers and leaders have called for non-Asian members of the Bay Area community to come support Oakland and San Francisco Chinatown business and organizations around this Lunar New Year in a show of solidarity against anti-Asian hate and racism. For those hesitant to go in-person due to COVID concerns, the San Francisco Neon Chinatown tour provides a way to show that support from home.

Nighttime in Chinatown, circa 1955.
Nighttime in Chinatown, circa 1955. (via Found SF / San Francisco Neon)

Part II of San Francisco Neon's Chinatown neon sign tour occurs virtually on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Tickets are free with a suggested $10 donation; details here.

Sponsored