SF's Chinatown Closes Major Thoroughfare To Cars, Hopes To Bring Back Tourists

A busy street in Chinatown in San Francisco.
Photo credit Palms | Dreamstime.com

A major thoroughfare in San Francisco’s Chinatown is closed to vehicle traffic and will remain closed every weekend through mid-September, in an effort to encourage people to come back to the neighborhood’s restaurants and stores devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Most of our tourists actually were from around the world,” said Eva Lee with the Chinatown Merchants Association. “So now, since that population has vanished, we’ll have to find other ways to reach other customers, especially within our own area, locally and regionally.” 

Lee said people are starting to come back to the neighborhood, now that Grant Avenue between California and Washington Streets is closed on weekends.

She told KCBS Radio that about half the visitors are from San Francisco, and half are tourists from other parts of California and other states. 

“They really like the closed street,” Lee added. “I talked to one person, they like the walkability.” 

So far, several Grant Avenue restaurants open for outdoor dining are benefitting from the street closure. 

Lee said if things continue to go well, the merchant's association may try to make the weekend closure permanent. As of now, it will be in effect through Sept. 20.