100 Feet below the Chinatown Subway Station

By Rev. Norman Fong

July 30, 2018

norman fong

It was amazing to see the Central Subway station 100 feet below Stockton and Washington Street. Like many of you, we cannot wait to see it finished. My home church, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, is right next door to the subway station. I remember preaching one Sunday when they were doing work at the station. I called up the SFMTA person in charge complaining – please stop the noise. There was supposed to be no work done on Sundays to interrupt our church services!

central subway

Yes, it’s been a lot of noise and traffic interruption, but it’s going to be worth it once it’s completed. Why? Because it will be so easy for anyone in the world to come to Chinatown. You can take BART from the SF Airport and connect with the subway. Even better, Chinatown residents will be able to take the subway to connect to BART and go to the airport too. In Hong Kong, I remember taking the subway everywhere! So yes, it’s been a lot of noise and construction and we are all suffering now. I went to see the underground station with a lot of merchants, another church representative and the principal of the Gordon J Lau Elementary School. We have all suffered from the construction of the subway but looking at all the hard work needed- 100 feet underground, I have to admit, it’s like creating a whole new underground world.

central subway

I remember going with Mayor Lee the first time years ago to see the tunnel that they created from South of Market. I remember seeing those huge boring machines. I remember going to Washington DC with some Chinatown Seniors from the Community Tenants Association (CTA) to advocate for the federal funds needed to build the subway. They gave us the federal money because they believed that Chinatown was so crowded and needed to have access to transportation like BART. It was one of the BIG Transit Projects that Chinatown hardly ever gets funded for. I also remember so many meetings years ago and Rose Pak and Ed Lee pushing really hard for the Subway and Chinatown Station. Without remembering, we sometimes forget all the hard work we as a community put into getting the subway for Chinatown in the first place.

I was getting so frustrated too by all the delays but after seeing a bit more of what the construction is all about, I can see what we will be getting. I wanted to share some pictures of what it looks like 100 feet below ground. Charles is the Chinatown Liaison who is pictured here spreading his arms out showing all the steel frames that will hold up and protect the Chinatown Station entrance (which has to be wide enough for the train to both come and go into Chinatown). I threw in a picture of me in the tunnel way (from years ago) when they didn’t even have a track yet). The new Chinatown Central Subway project manager and the Director of the San Francisco MTA are also pictured. Supervisor Peskin welcomed us before we got to go in.

central subway

central subway

central subway

Big construction projects are a “headache” for our community but will be worth it later. There have been too many construction projects lately but hopefully, with patience, we’ll have a much better Chinatown for the future. Chinatown CDC has been rebuilding the Ping Yuen and it has been a lot of work, but will be finished at the same time as when the Central Subway project is done. Chinatown should be looking pretty good at the end of next year! I am extremely thankful for all who have suffered from the noise and sidewalk congestion, and traffic problems for the sake of a better future for Chinatown. Hang in there everybody. I told the construction managers too that they should fix up all the cracks done to our church’s foundation and walls because of the construction… I said it with a smile and knowing that it’ll be another year and a few months before they finish… They said: for sure!

Hang in there everybody!

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on July 29, 2018

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