Chinatown: Sing Chong Co.

In 1907 Sing Chong Co. owner Look Tin Eli hired architects Ross and Burgren to build the pagoda-themed Sing Chong building on the NW corner of California/Grant, directly across California from their similar Sing Fat building. Sing Chong is listed in the 1908 Crocker-Langley city directory but not in the 1907 edition. The two iconic buildings appear in countless Chinatown postcards, often with a cable car climbing California between them as in Modern Lithograph 9 below.



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Left: Weidner 457, postmarked SF 7/14/1908. This must be the earliest of these four images, as the building does not yet display signs or the large "Trade Mark" emblem seen on the tower in later views (earliest card I have seen showing the emblem: photo postcard postmarked SF 10/01/1908). Next: Bardell; another example is postmarked SF 8/25/1909. Next: Britton & Rey; another example is postmarked SF 4/07/1910. Right: Benham 128, postmarked SF 4/18/1909. The captions of the Weidner and Britton & Rey cards cite location "California and Dupont", while the Bardell and Benham cards say "California St. and Grant Ave." Dupont from Market to Bush was renamed Grant in 1886, and as Chinatown was rebuilt after the fire Dupont north of Bush was officially renamed Grant in 1908. But use of the former name continued for many years, and over a century later it's still often Dupont Gai to locals.



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Left: Unknown publisher 2487, postmarked 2/05/1943. A large vertical sign at the corner advertises Sing Chong Co. Next: Unknown publisher. Next: Modern Lithograph 9. The building housed Cathay House restaurant from 1939. These two postcards show a large vertical Cathay House sign at the corner, replacing the earlier Sing Chong sign, with a different vertical Sing Chong sign just beyond. Sing Fat no longer occupies the SW corner. Right: Muir Woods Inn SF-33. More recently, the Sing Chong sign is gone and the Cathay House sign now reads "Wax Museum".

More Sing Chong views: Acmegraph 10672, Smith News 5P29835, Smith News 103. Some Sing Chong ephemera is here.



Steve's SF postcard pages: