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Fan Tan Alley

Coordinates: 48°25′44″N 123°22′04″W / 48.4290°N 123.3679°W / 48.4290; -123.3679
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Looking south on Fan Tan Alley

Fan Tan Alley is an alley in the Chinatown neighbourhood of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada that is known for being the narrowest commercial street in North America, being less than 0.9 m (3.0 ft) wide at its narrowest point.[1] It runs south from Fisgard Avenue to Pandora Avenue at the block between Government Street and Store Street. Named after the Chinese gambling game Fan-Tan, the alley was originally well known for opium factories that produced opium until it was made illegal in 1908.[2] The alley became known for gambling and got its Fan Tan name from the card game of the same name during the 1910s.[2] Police raids on the illegal gambling clubs and declining visitors led to the closure of the gambling clubs in the 1950s and 60s.[2] Fan Tan alley fell into disrepair and buildings were condemned at the time but was later revitalized in the 1970s and 80s with leadership from David Chuenyan Lai.[2] Today the alley is a tourist destination containing many small shops, an art gallery, restaurants, apartments, and offices. It was designated as a heritage property by the local government in 2001.[3]

In 2006, material salvaged from the alley's original gate was donated to the Six String Nation project, and now serves as kerfing on a guitar located there.[4]

In the 1990 movie Bird on a Wire, Mel Gibson rides a motorcycle down the alley.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alleys & Squares". Tourism Victoria. June 5, 2017. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d "Fan Tan Alley | Victoria's Chinatown". chinatown.library.uvic.ca. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  3. ^ 10-14 Fan Tan Alley. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Jowi., Taylor (2009). Six string nation : 64 pieces, 6 strings, 1 Canada, 1 guitar. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 978-1-55365-393-6. OCLC 302060380.
  5. ^ Bird on a Wire (1990) - IMDb, retrieved January 15, 2023

48°25′44″N 123°22′04″W / 48.4290°N 123.3679°W / 48.4290; -123.3679