It is believed that the Chinatown neighborhood was home to many Chinese immigrants. Chinese immigrants began moving to the area in the 1930s after being displaced from Washington’s first Chinatown on Pennsylvania Avenue by the development of the Federal Triangle government office complex. The newcomers marked it with attractive metal latticework, railings, and Chinese signs. At its height, Chinatown extended from G Street north to Massachusetts Avenue and 9th Street east until 5th Street.
In 2010 the Chinatown census tract was home to around 3,000 residents. Chinatown is just 21 percent Asian compared to 1990, which was when it was home to a majority Chinese American population. The population in 1990 was 66 percent Asian and 20 percent African American. The population of Washington D.C.’s Chinatown is relatively tiny in size and the number of Chinese residents compared to the other Chinatown areas across the U.S., such as those in San Francisco and Manhattan. About half of the residents in Chinatown reside at Chinatown’s Wah Luck House, which comprises 153 apartments in the complexes. The nearest Chinese supermarket, The Great Wall Supermarket, is 14 miles to the west in Falls Church, Virginia.
In addition to the construction of Verizon Center, the historic structures, mostly along the western side of 7th Street, were renovated and leased out, along with the most well-known brand stores and restaurants. A significant mixed-use office-residential-retail development on the southeast corner of 7th and H streets commenced construction within a short time. The development, which included eateries, shops, a cinema complex, and a bowling alley alongside the Verizon Center, transformed the neighborhood into a lively nightlife and a shopping and entertainment scene. The strange thing is that the majority of the establishments are no more a part of Washington, CO. However, because of city guidelines on design, which encourage companies to utilize Chinese characters, major chains like Starbucks, Hooters, Ruby Tuesday, Ann Taylor, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Legal Sea Foods, hang their names in Chinese on the outside of their stores. Chinatown has been the headquarters of several high-growth technology firms, including Blackboard, Blue State Digital, LivingSocial, and The Knowland Group. Chinatown is also the home of Chinatown, which is the home of the Washington section of the Goethe Institute.
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