The iconic red lanterns that dangle over Grant Avenue in San Francisco's Chinatown needed replacing after getting battered and tattered in this past winter's severe storms. And now, after a fundraising campaign, they are back.
The lanterns, modeled after traditional paper and silk lanterns that date back to the Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD), have hung across Grant Avenue for over ten years, having originally been installed by the Chinatown Merchants Association. Some made of fabric and others made of paper, the lanterns took a beating this past winter from hail, rain, and wind storms, and by April, many looked torn and tattered and some were completely missing.
One of the most iconic parts of San Francisco’s Chinatown took a big hit during the recent storms.— Liz Kreutz (@LizKreutzNews) April 5, 2023
The wind and hail destroyed many of the red, paper lanterns hanging on Grant Avenue.
The @SFCMA is asking for donations to replace them. pic.twitter.com/lfAohGDLSq
"They're iconic. It's part of us. It's part of Chinatown. You kind of have to have it," says Maria Szeto, the owner of Canton Bazaar, speaking to ABC 7.
Eva Lee, co-chair of Chinatown Merchants Association, tells the station, regarding the last few years, "This has been the hardest time for us, in my lifetime. Besides just the devastation of the pandemic and Chinatown being like a ghost town practically."
Lee adds, "We saw these lanterns in shreds and tattered and felt down and out, but no. This is to show you we can come back."
Tourists are reportedly already stopping to take photos of the fresh set of lanterns, which also add a glow to the street at night and keep the street safer, Lee says.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is happening Tuesday for the new set of lanterns, and as a symbolic welcome back to Chinatown.
Photo: Kevin V/Unsplash