Just south of the city, but, oddly, not in the necropolis of Colma itself, sits a hidden bit of San Francisco history: the Chinese Cemetery in Daly City.
During the Gold Rush and after, family associations (the legendary “Six Companies”) would arrange for remains to be transported back to China–those too poor to afford this would end up in one of the city cemeteries dotted around San Francisco. When the City made the decision to no longer allow burials in the municipal boundaries and moved the cemeteries to Colma, so too did a unique Chinese cemetery begin to develop on a dry hill above the Serramonte neighborhood. And, fittingly enough, you may look up directly overheard, and see the Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong just after takeoff from SFO, testifying to the centuries of links between the two regions.
Today, twice a year, hundreds of Chinese families come to burn incense, light fireworks, and honor their predecessors. But how many come by the two small potters’ fields at the opposite corners of the cemetery?