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Three Fan Tan Alley | Sean Schuster Fine Art Photography

Three Fan Tan Alley

Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street, is nestled in the heart of Victoria in Canada’s oldest Chinatown. Established in 1858, this area offers visitors history that’s as rich as its modern cuisine. Welcoming immigrants during the gold rush, Fan Tan Alley was thriving during a unique period of time; home to gambling dens along with the then-legal opium dens, the commerce and trade created an electric block in early Victoria. 

Now, an incredibly trendy spot, the alley is home to more than a dozen locally-owned shops. Visitors and locals enjoy organic treats, vintage records, a yoga studio, an ‘Umbrellatorium’, locally made jewelry and more. In a city bustling with tourists, it’s rare to not just experience but capture the alley so still.

Capturing a people-free scene took numerous attempts. Returning time and time again, I was thrilled to shoot this scene in the silence of dusk. This image seamlessly blends history (marked by age-old brick) and modern shop signs. Although empty on this night, there’s still subtle, simmering energy here. I love the shadows, the depth, and the overhead lanterns that signal warmth, happiness, and good fortune.

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