San Francisco Photowalk: Ferry Building to Chinatown

I had a great time last weekend wandering around San Francisco with a group of great women who are also photographers. The event was part of a world wide day of photowalks organized by Clickin Moms. Not only was it my first such activity, it was actually the first time the San Francisco Chapter (okay, I’m just making up names now, but doesn’t it sound official?), held a group event.

We started out at the Ferry Building, which used to actually be mainly a depot for commuters wanting to catch a boat across the bay. While you can still buy tickets and board a ferry here, the building is now best known as an artisan food hall.


Imperial Tea Court, SF Ferry Building

Some vendors set up tables in front of their shops

As you can imagine, with this being San Francisco, many of the restaurants and shops feature Asian foods, including Hodo Soy and Out the Door.

Imperial Tea Court, steamed buns

The Imperial Tea Court was selling some delicious steamed red bean and pork buns.

Steamed Chinese buns on a rack

I came across these buns, rising on a huge bakery rack. Then I realized I had kept the rest of the group waiting while I was shooting these pictures.
After meandering through Justin Herman Plaza and part of the Financial District, we headed up the hill towards North Beach.
Chinese building Pacific St. San Francisco
It was interesting to see Italian cafes on one side of the street and Asian facades on the other.

Grandfather and Chinese girls

Finally, we crossed Broadway back into Chinatown, where I spotted these adorable twin girls crossing the street with their grandfather. I only wish I could have clicked faster and gotten a closer shot. While I feel self-conscious about shooting strangers up close, I feel very comfortable taking shots like this one.

Some of the moms brought their kids with them, and the funniest thing I heard was when we stepped out of an alley next to City Lights Bookstore, and a five-year old boy on our walk gasped, “We’re in China, now?”

Incidentally, October 10, 2011 is also the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Republic of China (the government which now rules Taiwan) and the end of China’s imperial dynasty, so the area was extra crowded.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited San Francisco Chinatown, and I forgot about the wares hanging outside the shops, the chickens clucking, and the bins of dried herbs.

San Francisco Chinatown store

We’re not in Silicon Valley, anymore.

Chinese jujube dates

Ma Tsu Temple, San Francisco Chinatown


I have to bring my own boys here sometime soon.


Special big welcome to any Clickin Moms visiting HapaMama for the first time! I’m so inspired after our day of photography and seeing all your beautiful images. More of my photos from the outing are on my Flickr feed.

Seriously, it was such a luxury to spend several hours walking around San Francisco on such a sunny day.


  1. says

    umm… would that 5yo be mine by chance? *sigh* i’m embarrassed to say we live in sf and he still made that comment. AND he’s part chinese too. you can tell we hardly venture into chinatown… :/

    beautiful shots. it was so great to have met you and everyone else. i feel so inspired now looking through this city of mine through all of your eyes’ :)

    • says

      Yep, your son, LOL. Don’t worry, my kids have said similar things about certain parts of Silicon Valley ;) Nice to meet you, too! It’s so interesting to see how everyone things from a different viewpoint… and then interprets it differently though editing and processing… Makes me want to learn more about photoshop.

    • says

      Cleaner than NYC? Funny, I was suprised to see cages full of live chickens (squab?) with a big sign saying “No pictures”. A man came out and chased us away when someone tried to take pictures. Kinda of makes me wonder why…

    • says

      Thanks, Christina! In the past decade, SF has finally recovered and rebuilt after the Loma Prieta earthquake 20 years ago. The waterfront to South of Market are completely different than they used to be.

  2. says

    very nice photos! Especially of the steamed buns, made me hungry again! I love going to China Town. My boyfriend and I always go there to walk around and eat when ever I’m in the area.


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