06 March, 2009

Ghosts of Hollywood in Chinatown

Chinatown offers so much of interest for the amateur historian, it's easy to overlook the not-so-obvious history of many locations in this fascinating part of San Francisco. One such place is the Sun Sing Center on Grant Avenue near Jackson. Opened in the 1920s as the Mandarin Theatre, it originally featured performances of Chinese Opera. It later became a movie theatre, where I was lucky enough to be able to see several Hong Kong epics in my youth. After closing, along with several other Chinatown cinemas, it became a rather fascinating shopping mall. It's now a warren of DVD, CD and mobile phone retailers and a great resource if you're a Chinese movie fan. Speaking of films, cineastes may recognize this as the theatre that Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles duck into in the classic "Lady from Shanghai". The interior is still pretty much intact.
So much history if you look around.

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