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Where traditional and modern cultures come together

Business Not As Usual

City Lights Bookstore
The Beat Generation of the 50s got started in North Beach, and the center of activity was this bookstore, which first published Allen Ginsburg's banned poem "Howl" in 1956.
261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway
(415) 362-8193 -- www.citylights.com
Daily 10am-midnight

Fascinating collection of Hollywood memorabilia, posters, etc.
1318 Grant Street between Green and Vallejo
(415) 989-6744
Mon-Th noon-8pm, Fri/Sat noon-10pm, Sun noon-6pm

Superior Trading Company
The largest house of oriental herbs and ginseng, they package their own products for export.
835 Washington Street between Grant and Stockton
(415) 495-7988--- www.superiortrading.com
Daily 9:30am-6pm

Jackson Square Historical District
This historic district of 1800s buildings now houses antique stores, upscale businesses, and dot-com companies (at least the ones that survived).
japonesque --- elegant contemporary Japanese design
824 Montgomery Street between Jackson and Pacific

(415) 391-8860
Tu-Fri 10:30a-5:30pm, Sat 11am-5pm

Hotaling Building
451 Jackson Street
Built in 1866, this building at the corner of Jackson and Hotaling between Montgomery and Sansome was the largest liquor repository on the West Coast. It survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, inspiring Charles Field's famous doggerel:
"If, as they say, God spanked the town for being over frisky,
Why did he burn the churches down and save Hotaling's whisky?"

The House Restaurant
San Francisco draws a lot of inspiration from Pacific Rim cultures, and one of the best places to sample this blend of cultures is at The House Restaurant. The imaginative Asian fusion specialties here are truly a distinctive dining experience.
1230 Grant Street at Columbus
(415) 986-8612
Dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-10pm, Sat 5:30-11pm
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm

Things to Experience

Two Walks: Odd Streets of North Beach
---Telegraph Hill
The Telegraph Hill walk takes in some of the city's unusual streets, such as the beautifully landscaped Filbert Steps. A great urban hike for the fit.
---Russian Hill
The Russian Hill walk takes in more of the city's unusual streets, such as Macondray Lane (Armistad Maupin's "Tales of the City") and snaking Lombard Street. A great urban hike for the fit.

Tattoo Art Museum
Small museum filled with historical photos, recent body art, and assorted curios.
841 Columbus Avenue at Lombard
(415) 775-4991 -- lyletuttle.com
Noon-4pm daily

Chinese Cultural Center
A gallery of traditional and contemporary works by Chinese and Chinese-American artists. Heritage walks are offered Tuesdays through Saturdays at 2 pm (reservations required), and culinary walks at 10:30 am which culminate in dim sum lunch.
750 Kearny Street in Holiday Inn, 3rd Floor
(415) 986-1822 -- www.c-c-c.org
Gallery: Tu-Sat 10am-4pm

Chinese Historical Society of America
Largest collection of Chinese and Chinese-American artifacts in the U.S.: family trees, photos, images of immigrants in popular culture.
965 Clay Street
(415) 391-1188 -- www.chsa.org
Tu-Fri Noon-5pm, Sat/Sun Noon-4pm

Literary Walking Tour
Two-hour tour through North Beach and Chinatown, focusing on the area's rich literary history including the Beats, John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Jack London, Isodora Duncan, and Gold Rush greats Mark Twain, Bret Harte and Ambrose Bierce. Concludes with a complimentary drink at Vesuvio Bar.
Starts in front of City Lights Books on Columbus and Broadway
Reservations: (415) 441-0140 -- SFliterarytours.com
Every Saturday at noon

Questions / comments

Updated 9/12/04