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Chinatown in San Francisco in the State of California is a community that is majorly made up of people with Chinese origin, commonly known as the Han community. This community is an establishment of Asian ethnic group that has been part of California since 1848. It is an urban setting that provides accommodation to the Chinese immigrants that choose to live in the environment that preserves their culture and general way of life. It is also a tourist attraction for many people who wish to visit the place and experience the culture of the Han community people. The Chinatown has managed to maintain to a large extent the way of life of the Chinese people represented by nutritional culture, social interaction peculiarities, such as clubs, the Chinese way of worship, and the official language of the members of the community. It is therefore necessary to analyze the lifestyles of the Chinese people living in Chinatown in the view of the specifics of their settlement pattern, demographic profile, and cultural landscapes that are unique to their ethnic community and make them different from the Asian citizens living in other areas.

Spatial Pattern

Spatial pattern refers to the structure and arrangement of objects and people in a given location. It takes into consideration the space that exists between them. Commonly, the patterns are distinguished based on whether theyre in line or clustered. Chinatown, just as the social organization in China proper is characterized by the concentration of certain institutions (Qia, 2016). There was a major influx of the Chinese in the region which was followed by their specialization in laundries resulting in their widespread distribution. This prevented a residential concentration of the Chinese who had great cultural differences in other areas where the indigenous populations of the region dwelled. Since the immigrants had an objective of returning to China with the savings they had accumulated, most of them did not bother to have permanent accommodation, build the infrastructure, or bring their families (Qia, 2016). This contributed to the development of Chinatown as the place where mostly the residential buildings are concentrated.

The spatial pattern of the region can also be described based on the location of particular facilities within the territory. The pattern is in-line with the streets being straight and the buildings well arranged in between the lanes and major roads (Qia, 2016). The marketplaces are, however, not well located as the traders of the past used to have to find a scarce space within the market where they could sell their products. The businesses, such as banks and restaurants, are located well within the same neighborhood and are historically well separated from the residential areas that are located outside the business area. All in all, the most common spatial pattern in Chinatown is one where objects are arranged in a line. Additionally, the commercial areas are distinctly separated from the residential areas, proving their significance for the population back in the day, and the buildings are arranged in between mostly narrow streets and lanes.

Residential/Commercial Types

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The residential areas in Chinatown are mostly composed of tenement buildings that are cramped tightly and aimed at accommodating more people on smaller spaces. Some of these buildings are considered to be over 100 years old (Qia, 2016). The apartments still have a common feature where bathrooms are located in the hallway and have to be shared by various residents in the building. However, over the years, housing has greatly improved in the area which can either be termed as a merit or a demerit. New apartments which offer better living conditions for the people have been constructed (Qia, 2016). Nevertheless, the real estate prices in the region are currently on a rising trend, making it difficult for the lower-income residents to afford their rent.

Development in the real estate industry in Chinatown has also brought certain change in the residential types of the neighborhood. Currently, the area has luxury condominiums as part of the residential options. These houses started to multiply in the area in the year 2007 (Qia, 2016). The neighborhood has since been opening to the much broader New York. Currently, new constructions for residential types are increasing in number, with the buildings belonging to both Chinese and non-Chinese investors (Qia, 2016). The developments offer various amenities aimed at both residing and commercial activity. The modern buildings are being incorporated with various luxuries such as whirlpool bathtubs and flat-screen televisions that are built in the walls. The real estate markets have also taken into consideration Chinese passion for cooking and are offering well-ventilated kitchens and cooking spaces (Qia, 2016). Therefore, the common scattered residential apartments and buildings in Chinatown which accommodated a large population of the Chinese immigrants are now changing gradually into more luxurious places.

Demographic Information of Residents

The total population in the area is estimated to be 48,477 with 23,547 being males and the rest being females (Busa, 2014). A good percentage of the people living in the area are median aged. The demographics concerning the age of the people living in the area reflect the median age to be around 36 (Busa, 2014). There is relative employment in the region. A larger part of the population in the neighborhood is employed, with the statistics showing that 16,611 people have white collar jobs while 9,129 people have blue collar jobs (Busa, 2014). There also exist many households in the area, with some owned by families and others by single self-employed individuals.

Literacy levels in the region are quite high. Those without high school education are approximately 4,962, people with specialized education are 3,274, while those with college or university education amont to around 4,970 people (Busa, 2014). The high levels of education could be attributed to the culture of the Chinese community which stresses on educational achievements. Since the traditional culture is still at play in Chinatown, the people are influenced to pursue educational goals from early childhood.

The marital status rate in the region illustrates that almost a third of the population of Chinatown in San Francisco have never been married. The single population is over 15,000, those who are married are approximately 12,003, while there is also a small percentage of individuals who are separated and divorced, which is 5.9% and 10.6% respectively (Busa, 2014). The low levels of separation and divorce could also be the merit of the Chinese culture which emphasizes a great value of family in the community.

Additionally, the average income in the population based on age is a factor that can also be explained by the demographics of Chinatown. Chinatown has undergone a significant change in income since 2010. The earnings of citizens who are under 25 are $ 24, 481, those between 25-44 years the median earn around $48,000, $ 56,500 is made by those aging from 45 to 64, and $30, 889 by individuals over 65 (Busa, 2014). On average, each household earns an income of $61, 036 while the median income per person is $43,721 (Busa, 2014).

Although the previous statistics looks attractive, Chinatown is still a region that consists of people of the middle and lower classes with low incomes, which has a considerable influence on the crime rate in the region. It is above average in the neighborhood compared to the national crime rate statistics. The highest risk is robbery at 441%, followed by murder with the total crime rate risk being 211% (Busa, 2014). The total household expenditure in the region is also below the national average (Busa, 2014). The statistics clearly demonstrate the living standards in the area.

Spoken Language

With a high number of the immigrants being Fuzhou, Mandarin is the most common language spoken in Chinatown. There are also large numbers of Cantonese people in the region many of whom are business owners, making Cantonese language one of the popular languages spoken in Chinatown, though Mandarin is considered as the lingua franca of the neighborhood. Other than the Chinese languages, English is a common language that is spoken in Chinatown. Due to the high number of white people and foreign tourists and customers in San Francisco, it has become important for business owners to learn the English language to adapt to the growing demand. Additionally, education ambitions have contributed to the spread of the English language in the community. Other languages that are learnt and spoken by the minority members include Spanish and French.

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Chinatown is an area that has a high residency of Chinese population. The community mainly consists of the Chinese but studies have shown a decrease of neatly 9% since the year 2000 (Busa, 2014). The Fuzhou immigrants make a large portion of the residents in Chinatown. (Lin, 2014). The Cantonese also were some of the original immigrants into the district, with the two groups contributing to the high number of Chinese Americans region. Many of the businesses in the region are owned by the Cantonese people. There are also many Cantonese speaking customers in the region enjoy shopping in Chinatown. The Cantonese, therefore, exert a major cultural influence in Chinatown.

Since the cultural landscape of Chinatown is predominantly influenced by the Chinese culture and the languages spoken are mainly Chinese-based, the catering industry is comprised of a large number of restaurants that offer Chinese food to their customers. The numerous galleries and museums there showcase the Chinese culture. There are also other entertainment amenities that are linked to the Chinese culture. In the past, there were several Chinese theatres that showed performances to the inhabitants of the area. However, major changes in the society have led to their closure and replacement with other leisure time facilities (Lin, 2014). Despite this, the Chinese cultural sites are still important tourist attractions, especially in the Cantonese part of Chinatown.


The major Asian population that has arrived in the US a few centuries ago and established one of Chinatowns around the country is the Chinese diaspora, also known as the Han community of San Francisco. There are approximately 48,000 people of Chinese descent who live and conduct businesses in the 3.47 square kilometers area. The restaurants that provide food cooked in the Chinese traditions, ethnic nightclubs, theme accommodation hotels, several schools, and two hospitals all serve the needs of the community members. Although it has residential areas that are distinct from the commercial ones, its poorly organized system of the market makes the area to be crowded, seemingly even more densely populated than it really is. The main languages spoken in San Francisco Chinatown are Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese as well as English which is mostly spoken by the white populations and tourists. The uniqueness of the culture of the Chinese people has attracted multiple visitors to Chinatown to interact and enjoy the diversity of the traditions and sights, making Chinatown of San Francisco one of principal tourist attraction zones of the city.

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