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The Dragon Gate is the traditional stone archway greeting visitors to Chinatown since 1970.

Like most Chinese ceremonial gates, the Chinatown Gateway has three portals facing south. The two smaller west and east (pedestrian) portals flank the larger central (automotive) portal, and the structure is supported on stone columns rising from the sidewalks on either side of Grant.

The stone columns adhere to standards for Chinese gateways in contrast, most ‘Chinese’ gateways constructed in the United States use wooden support columns. Each portal is covered with green tiles, leading north along Grant Avenue into Chinatown.

Three shallow steps lead up to each pedestrian portal. Each pedestrian portal features a stone Chinese guardian lion on the side away from the street. By tradition, the lion pair consists of one male and one female. The male lion, at the west portal, stands with his right fore paw atop a pearl or stone, symbolically guarding the structure or empire. The female lion, at the east portal, stands with her left fore paw atop a juvenile lion, symbolically guarding the occupants within There are four Chinese characters above each portal. Each sign is read from right to left.

      • The central portal sign reads Chinese: 天下為公; pinyin: tiānxià wèi gōng; literally: ‘All under heaven is for the good of the people’ (a motto attributed to Dr. Sun Yat-sen);
      • The East portal sign reads 忠孝仁愛; zhōngxiào rén’ài; ‘respect (filial piety); love’
      • and the West reads 信義和平; xìnyì hépíng; ‘trust (confidence); peace


Did you know?

    1. The gate is adorned with statues of fish and dragons, traditional symbols of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture.
    2. Unlike many of Chinatown’s buildings that blend Eastern and Western architectural elements, the Dragon Gate exclusively features traditional Chinese architectural styles.
    3. The construction of the gate was funded entirely by donations from the local Chinese community, highlighting their pride and commitment to preserving their cultural heritage.

Not To Be Missed

Chinatown is a must-see on any San Francisco itinerary!

Beyond the Dragon Gate lies the bustling streets of Chinatown, a neighborhood that has preserved its unique identity while continuously evolving. Today, Chinatown is a dynamic blend of the old and new, where historic temples and traditional herbal shops coexist with contemporary art galleries and trendy eateries. As visitors pass through the gate, they step into a world that offers a tangible connection to Chinese culture, history, and the immigrant experience in America.

Not to Be Missed

Grant Avenue

The main thoroughfare of Chinatown, lined with shops selling everything from fine teas to handcrafted souvenirs, offering a glimpse into the commercial heart of the community.

Chinese Historical Society of America

Housing an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits, this museum provides insights into the Chinese American experience from the Gold Rush to the present day.

Dim Sum and Traditional Cuisine

Chinatown is renowned for its culinary offerings, with numerous restaurants serving authentic dim sum, Peking duck, and other traditional Chinese dishes.

Location and Information

Address: The intersection of Grant Avenue and Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

The Dragon Gate is more than just a physical entryway into San Francisco’s Chinatown; it’s a symbolic passage into a world that bridges continents and centuries. Whether you’re drawn by the lure of history, the promise of culinary delights, or the beauty of traditional architecture, Chinatown and its iconic gate offer a unique and enriching experience. It’s a reminder of the city’s multicultural tapestry and a tribute to the Chinese American community’s resilience and contributions to San Francisco’s cultural and social fabric.

Read More: Top 11 things to do and see in Chinatown San Francisco


Chinatown Gate Information and copyright –

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