17.7.08

Down the Alley


Down the Alley, originally uploaded by _saturnine.

"The Chinese had their own names for the alleys in Chinatown. The main streets, outside of Sacramento Street, were always known to the Chinese by their English names, the other streets, however, were all known by Chinese names. If you asked a Chinaman where an alley was and gave the American name, he would be unable to tell you, for he would not know. But if you gave him the Chinese name, he would know immediately. For instance, Sacramento Street was known as China Street—in Chinese as Tong Yen Guy. Ross Alley was originally settled by the Spanish, but when the Chinese came they crowded the Spaniards out. This alley was, therefore, given the name of Gow Louie Sun Hong, or old Spanish Alley. Spofford Alley was another alley from which the Spaniards were crowded out; this was called Sun Louie Sun Hong, or new Spanish Alley. Alongside the old First Baptist Church, on Washington below Stockton, was an alley, at the end of which was a stable for horses. The Chinese named this Mah Fong Hong, “stable alley.” A small alley off of Ross Alley was known as On New Hong, in other words, “urinating alley,” as the Chinese made it a regular urinating place." [from a Brief History of San Francisco's Chinatowns by Commissioner Jesse B. Cook]
And guess what? I can't for the life of me remember the name of this one. I am pretty sure it was a significant place too. I'll get back to you on that detail.