I still get a big thrill out of walking through Chinatown, or rather, wading through jammed sidewalks full of people shopping for fresh produce and who-knows-what-those-things-are at outdoor markets that line its narrow streets. During the day Chinatown still feels like what it has been since its start - the densest concentration of Chinese people anywhere in the world living outside mainland China. The alleyways look pretty good - I didn't see a lot of graffiti but I did see loads of people in little shops that seem to be thriving. Out of curiosity I stole a glance under a makeshift cloth awning down a narrow strip between two buildings and saw a peppermint pole whirling away at a tiny barbershop clearly only those living there could know about. Happened upon this scene (look right ->) of a guy unloading live, flopping fish at a seafood market on Stockton. It made my day. Well, that and the steaming bowl of noodle soup I ate on Jackson Street (not Chinese, but Vietnamese Pho, my favorite food of all time - the best five-dollar lunch, period).
I'm a big fan of the Chinatown Community Development Center that takes good care of its community, both its people and the streets and alleyways that continue to make Chinatown one of the City's top tourist draws.