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Founded in 1848, Chinatown is the oldest enclave of its kind in the country and a major tourist destination in the city. The neighborhood has art galleries, restaurants, shops, temples and historic buildings that reveal the community’s unique culture. Colorfully decorated lampposts greet those who visit the temples, eateries and herbal medicine shops. Waverly Place has colorful balconies and incredible aromas. The street is home the brightly colored Tien Hau Temple and Tin How Temple, which is the country’s oldest Chinese sanctuary. The district also contains the historic Bank of Canton, the Sin Chong Building and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Buildings with pagoda style architecture surround Portsmouth Plaza. The well-known and often photographed Dragon Gate entrance to Chinatown is located on Grant Street. Chinatown is the location for several popular festivals, including the August Moon, Chinese New Year and Asian Heritage Street celebrations. While Chinatown evokes the ambiance of Hong Kong, the nearby neighborhood of North Beach transports visitors to Italy.
The community has Old World style cafes, delicatessens and restaurants. Because San Francisco is a major port city, the piers and wharves in Little Italy have always played an integral role in the city’s history. Visitors will find trendy boutiques, chic nightspots and an assortment of eateries, featuring various regional cuisines. The neighborhood is home to Washington Square Park, the historic St. Peter and Paul Church and the iconic Coit Tower and Filbert Steps. Other notable attractions include the St. Francis of Assisi Church, Columbus Tower/Sentinel Building and the Beat Museum. North Beach hosts well-known street fairs, such as the Oysters and Beer, Beach Blanket Babylon and Art in the Alley festivals. Two cable car lines serve the neighborhood.