On a recent tour with Gordan, he told the group of us to always look up and look down to truly become acquainted with Chinatown. As I was reflecting on my past visits in Chinatown, I realized I do exactly the opposite. I have often walked through Chinatown as if I were on a secret mission, swiftly dodging residents and merchants. I rarely took the opportunity to look up and look around at all the history that surrounded me.
The story that stood out to me the most out of all the ones Gordon told us included the land use battle revolving around Mandarin Tower and the Willy Woo Woo Wong. Walking around Chinatown as a child, I had always wondered why Mandarin Towers stood stories higher than all the other surrounding buildings. I learned that the Mandarin Towers was developed before the current zoning laws were created. Overall, I learned how interconnected many land use battles in Chinatown are. The creation of the Mandarin Towers spurred new discussion around the now, Willie Woo Woo Wong playground. This playground for many, including myself, served as one of the sole play areas in Chinatown that children frequented. After the creation of the Mandarin Towers, the developers wanted to turn this central playground into a parking lot for the new residents of the towers. The Chinatown neighborhood always seems to be swaying in this gray area between maintaining its cultural integrity and staying true to its current residents as well as continuing to develop economically and cater to new generations of San Franciscans and Chinese-Americans alike.