Chinatown: Hang Far Low

Postcards on this page show the west side of Grant between Sacramento and Commercial, including Hang Far Low noodle house at 723/725 Grant. 1887 Sanborn shows that Hang Far Low was at this location from at least 1887; it was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake/fire and then rebuilt. Judy Yung's San Francisco's Chinatown (Arcadia, 2016, revised ed., pp. 17-18) shows pre-quake and post-quake Hang Far Low photos. All the cards below are post-quake. Charles Caldwell Dobie's San Francisco's Chinatown (Appleton-Century, 1936) includes an E.H. Suydam drawing of the interior of Hang Far Low.

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Left: Weidner 590. The "Chinese Restaurant" of the caption indicates the middle building, not Yow Yuen at left. No restaurant signs in this view; the building looks fairly new. Another example of this card is postmarked 6/11/1909, so the image must be from 1907-1909. Next: Pacific Novelty 2805. The third floor sign advertises a generic "Restaurant & Tea-Garden" with a "Chop Suey" sign on the second floor below. The Kinetoscope next door is the Dragon Theatre, ca. 1909. A Newman card postmarked 7/15/1912 uses the same image. Next: Pacific Novelty 596, dated 7/22/1914. The upper sign reads "Hang Far Low" and the "Chop Suey" sign remains. Almost all Grant postcards look north, but this one looks south. The image must date from between 1908 (Sing Chong completion date) and 1914. Right: Pacific Novelty 76, color version of the previous image with unsightly utility poles removed and flags added atop the Sing Chong building. A variant is postmarked 12/09/1915.

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Left: Pacific Stationery 96, postmarked Ashfork & Los Angeles R.P.O. [AZ] 3/27/1929. The restaurant has an added marquee with an illuminated "Chop Suey" sign above. Next: Piltz 68. Next: Crocker B-1, looking south. The "Chop Suey" sign projecting over the marquee is gone and a large vertical sign has been added. The vertical sign probably dates from the mid-1930s, as it's not in Pacific Novelty 1-139 mailed 1932 but is in other cards dating from 1938. Right: Longshaw 4, postmarked 12/09/1949, photo by Zan (uncredited). The vertical sign for Eastern Bakery (720 Grant at Commercial) at the right edge remains today, as does the second floor balcony (outside Kan's restaurant).

Many online sources incorrectly state that the dragon-ornamented streetlamps on Grant were installed for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition; no streetlamp in the earlier Pacific Novelty cards, but the Pacific Stationery card shows a streetlamp in front of Hang Far Low by 1929, it's still there in the later cards and remains there in 2020.

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Left: Scenic View 8. Next: Bardell B-12. Next: Smith News 32. Right: National Color D102. The last city directory listing for Hang Far Low is in the 1958 Polk's. At the site in 2020 a different vertical sign advertises the later Four Seas restaurant, but the Four Seas is gone too. The Hang Far Low venue is now (in 2020) Mr. Jiu's (entrance at 28 Waverly Place, not Grant). The distinctive decorative supports for the balconies/fire escape remain, garishly painted.

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These cards show the buildings just south of Hang Far Low. Left: Roesch, postmarked SF 9/17/1yyy [year illegible], shows Nanking Fook Woh at the NW corner Dupont/Sacramento. The building just north (right) of Nanking Fook Woh matches the cards above, though here it has no fire escape. The building at the right edge is at the location of Hang Far Low, but it is not the Hang Far Low building shown above; my guess is that the building at right edge is simply supplied by the postcard artist. Next: Britton & Rey 9011 (front enhanced with glitter) shows dragon dancers passing Nanking Fook Woh during the 1909 Portolá Festival, with the Hang Far Low building just beyond. This card implies that the corner building existed by 1909, though Nanking Fook Woh first appears in the 1917 Crocker-Langley ("importers of Oriental fine arts"). Next: Pacific Stationery 63 (same image as white border era Pacific Novelty 1-139). Right: Cal-Pictures 78297. Half a century later, the corner building housed Golden Pavilion restaurant, with Four Seas just down the street at the Hang Far Low building.

More postcards not shown above: Pacific Stationery 96, Scenic View 4, Scenic View 5.

Steve's SF postcard pages: