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Best Back Alley 

Ross Alley

Ross Alley is the oldest alleyway in Chinatown and therefore in San Francisco, and as such boasts phantoms both benign and sinister. It was here that Fung Jing Toy (aka "Little Pete"), Chinatown's criminal mastermind, maintained most of the cribs, opium dens, and gambling joints that so enriched the city's coffers. (An amazing 1898 Arnold Genthe photograph of the alleyway can be studied at In later years the alley was best known for its now-defunct Rickshaw Bar, where, legend has it, the Beatles knocked back a few in 1964. Today's Ross Alley is more placid than in the past, but it still gives off enough of a labyrinthine, Old World vibe to stand in for the real thing in movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Among its attractions are the vintage single-chair Old Yee Barbershop, where proprietor Jun Yu has clipped the locks of Sinatra, Como, Eastwood, and other devotees, and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where you can watch two women pluck circles of dough off a Jules Verne carousel apparatus, tuck fortunes on top, and fold them into cookies. Call Chinatown Alleyway Tours at 984-1744 to learn more about this history-rich back street.


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