San Francisco Chinatown
A Guide to Its History and Architecture
By Philip P. Choy
(City Lights Publishers, Paperback, 9780872865402, 184pp.)
Publication Date: June 2012
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San Francisco Chinatown is the first history of and guide to SF Chinatown written by someone born and raised there.
Philip P. Choy was born 1926 in San Francisco Chinatown at a time when an invisible boundary isolated the community from mainstream San Francisco. He lived on the N.W. corner of Pacific and Grant Ave. where his father co-owned a meat market that catered not only to the Chinese in the community but to the neighboring Italian housewives in North Beach.
Like all Chinese children he attended public school and after school attended Chinese school from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. He went to the University of California under the G.I. Bill and graduated with a degree in Architecture.
He is a retired architect and a renowned historian on the history of Chinese America. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Philip P. Choy and his colleague Him Mark Lai co-taught the Nation’s first college level course in Chinese American history at San Francisco State University. Since then he has created and consulted on numerous T.V. documentaries, exhibits and publications, including the Gaam Saan HaakThe Chinese of America in 1974. He co-authored The Coming Man: 19th Century American Perceptions of the Chinese with Professors Marlon Hom and Lorraine Dong. His most recent book is Canton Footprints: Sacramento’s Chinese Legacy.
His community services includes providing pro-bono architectural services to non-profit organizations such as the Chinese for Affirmative Action, the former Chinese YWCA, the Oroville Temple, and in 1943 produced the case report that placed the Angel Island Immigration Station on the National Registry of Historic Places. He has served on the California State Historic Resource Commission, on the San Francisco Landmark Advisory Board, five times as President of the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA), and currently an emeritus CHSA boardmember.
Among his awards of recognition is the prestigious San Francisco State University President’s Medal.
"Philip P. Choy's San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide to Its History and Architecture is just what local and out-of-town tourists have wanted and needed. . . . History buffs will be amazed by the wealth of lore, legend and radiant fact."San Francisco Chronicle
"San Francisco Chinatown illuminates the untold history of the enclave... to consider the political, historical, and cultural implications of Chinatown's very existence."San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Choy's book is easily read while walking, and fits easily into a jacket pocket. His descriptions are typically no more than two pages and are always accompanied by a large photo . . . I emphasize these qualities because the most important feature of a guidebook is that it is useable. And Choy has met this test."Beyond Chron