Lonely Planet review
Chinatown's unofficial living room is named after John B Montgomery's sloop, which staked the US claim on San Francisco here in 1846. This is where the Gold Rush began and where San Francisco's first city hall took over burlesque Jenny Lind Theater in 1852. The resident deity is the Goddess of Democracy, a bronze replica of the statue Tiananmen Square protesters made in 1989.
The action begins early and runs late in Portsmouth Square, where tai chi practitioners greet the dawn with outstretched arms and a lively night market is held during Chinese New Year and in summer (July to October). Each afternoon, toddlers rush the playground slides and tea-drinking crowds gather at the kiosk under the pedestrian bridge to joke and discuss the day's news. Checkers and chess played on concrete tables in gazebos late into the evening aren't just games but year-round obsessions, come rain or shine.