Chinatown: Sing Fat Co.


Sing Fat & Co. Chinese & Japanese Bazaar was a very successful store in pre-earthquake Chinatown, established in 1866 and located immediately north of Saint Mary's at 614 Dupont (now Grant) by 1895. Above: Keystone stereoview 9232 (click here for crosseyed viewing) looks north on Dupont from between Sacramento and California. Another pre-quake view of Sing Fat is here and a bleak post-quake photo is here (note the Sing Fat sign on St. Mary's).

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Sing Fat published postcards before the earthquake. A few more are here.

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Sing Fat was among the first businesses to rebuild after Chinatown was destroyed by fire following the 4/18/1906 earthquake. Owner Tong Bong hired architects Ross and Burgren to build a new pagoda-themed Sing Fat building on the SW corner of California/Dupont, half a block from the previous location. The 1907 Crocker-Langley city directory lists Sing Fat at at California/Dupont and also at 1121 Post, in the new post-quake retail section on Van Ness that sprang up during rebuilding. Ross and Burgren also designed a building across California St. (NW corner of California/Dupont) for Sing Chong Co., and the two iconic buildings appear in countless Chinatown postcards. Sing Fat Co.'s last city directory listing is in the 1931 Polk's Crocker-Langley.

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Sing Fat Co. must have handed out many, many thousands of advertising postcards like these, and many variants remain widely available today. All display the Sing Fat Dragon Trade Mark, as does the building; obviously Sing Fat understood branding.

The 1908 Sanborn card cites the location as Dupont/California, not Grant/California; Dupont was officially renamed in 1908. The 1912 card mentions a branch in LA; the 1921 card mentions a branch at Geary/Grant, and the card at right mentions branches in LA and NYC. The card at right uses the same image as the card at left, with numerous minor tweaks from the postcard artist (comparison here), including a cable car coming down California. Similar, not shown: Pacific Novelty.

Not shown: Benham 1577, postmarked Los Angeles 1/17/1911, displays the Los Angeles branch of Sing Fat (615 South Broadway).

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These cards all show the California Street Hill, including Sing Fat and Sing Chong at Grant and cable cars on California.

Steve's SF postcard pages: