New lanterns in San Francisco's Chinatown honor community's cultural icons and history

Lantern Stories is a cool new outdoor public artwork by Yu-Wen Wu in San Francisco's Chinatown that celebrates Asian culture. I stumbled upon it the other night.

Over the long weekend, my dear friend Joyce planned a group evening adventure to San Francisco. We didn't know what was in store for us but we were game for whatever she had in mind. Our journey started by taking a ride deep underground on the brand new Muni light rail extension to Chinatown. The Chinatown-Rose Pak station is beautiful, clean, and full of art. On our way to our next destination, The Blind Pig Speakeasy, we walked down the 600 block of Grant Avenue. This is where we spotted some really cool lanterns. They all had images on them and reminded me of those vintage photo lampshades.

When I got home, I had to know more. This is what I learned:

The first West Coast iteration of Lantern Stories, this public art installation comprises 29 lanterns that illuminate San Francisco Chinatown's history, culture, and community. The images on the lanterns relate the long and fraught history and legacy of Chinese immigration in the United States. Many of the lanterns highlight the arts, calligraphy, music and performance, as well as the community's strong commitment to education, entrepreneurship, and social justice. 12 There are twelve SF-specific lanterns, including Angel Island Detention Center, Entrepreneurship, Earthquake of 1906, Cameron House, and SF Notables featuring Bruce Lee, Amy Tan, journalist Helen Zia, pioneer restaurateur Cecilia Chang, and many others.

You can see all the lanterns here.

Apothecary & Grocery / 藥劑師和雜貨店 / photo: Rusty Blazenhoff
image: Yu-Wen Wu