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Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown is a small, historic area east of Downtown Washington, D.C., along H and I Streets between 5th and 8th Streets, Northwest. Historically, the area was once home to thousands of Chinese immigrants, which had shrunk to fewer than 300 in 2017. The current neighborhood was the second in Washington to be called “Chinatown” since 1931. The first Chinatown was built in the Federal Triangle on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue sometime after 1851. Still, it was relocated to the H Street area when a new federal building was built. A Chinese gate was built over H Street at 7th Street. By 1997, prominent landmarks such as the Capital One Arena, a sports and entertainment arena, had gentrified the area. The neighborhood is served by the Gallery Place station of the Washington Metro.


The Chinatown area was once home to many Chinese immigrants. Chinese immigrants began to move into the place in the 1930s, having been displaced from Washington’s original Chinatown along Pennsylvania Avenue by the development of the Federal Triangle government office complex. The newcomers marked it with decorative metal latticework, railings, and Chinese signage. At its peak, Chinatown extended from G Street north to Massachusetts Avenue and 9th Street east to 5th Street.


In 2010, the census tract that contains Chinatown had around 3,000 residents. Chinatown is only 21% Asian compared to 1990, when it had a majority Chinese American population. In 1990, its population was 66% Asian and 20% African American. Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown is relatively small in size and number of Chinese residents compared to other central Chinatown neighborhoods in the U.S., such as those in San Francisco and Manhattan. Approximately half of Chinatown’s residents live in the Wah Luck House, which has 153 units of apartment complexes. The closest Chinese supermarket, the Great Wall Supermarket, is fourteen miles west in Falls Church, Virginia. EZ DC Junk Removal

Business Establishments

Along with the development of the Verizon Center, historic buildings, mainly along the west side of 7th Street, were renovated and tenanted, primarily with nationally known brand shops and dining establishments. A significant mixed-use office-residential-retail development on the southeast corner of 7th and H streets commenced construction within a short time. These developments, including restaurants, shops, a cinema complex, and a bowling alley, together with the Verizon Center, transformed the area into a bustling nightlife, shopping, and entertainment scene. An anomaly is that most of the businesses are no longer representative of Chinatown. Yet, due to city design guidelines encouraging businesses to use Chinese characters, national chains such as Starbucks, Hooters, Ruby Tuesday, Ann Taylor, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Legal Sea Foods hang their names in Chinese outside their stores. Chinatown has become home to many high-growth technology companies, such as Blackboard, Blue State Digital, LivingSocial, and The Knowland Group. It is also the location of the Washington branch of the Goethe Institute.

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