The Chinatown area was once home to many Chinese immigrants; it is also the location of the Washington branch of the Goethe-Institut. Chinese immigrants began to move into the area 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 and railings as well as Chinese signage. At its peak, Chinatown extended from G Street north to Massachusetts Avenue, and from 9th Street east to 5th Street. In 1986, the city dedicated the Friendship Archway, a traditional Chinese gate designed by Alfred H. Liu, a local architect and chairman of the Chinatown Development Corporation, who emigrated from Taiwan to the United States as a teenager. The colorful, US$1 million work of public art includes seven roofs up to 60 feet high, 7000 tiles, and 272 painted dragons in the style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Erected to celebrate friendship with Washington’s sister city of Beijing, it was hoped the arch would reinforce the neighborhood’s Chinese character. According to the plaque next to the arch, it is the largest such single-span archway in the world. In 1993, the Friendship Archway underwent a major renovation funded by D.C. and Chinese governments. Artisans from China performed extensive repairs on the archway and repainted its decorations. In 1986, the Metro station was given its present name: Gallery Place-Chinatown. The city constructed the Wah Luck House apartments at 6th and H Streets, NW, to accommodate the displaced residents in 1982. Designed by architect Alfred Liu, the apartment building introduced modern Chinese design motifs due to the red-paneled balconies. The MCI Center was completed in 1997 (renamed Verizon Center in 2006). After the construction of the Verizon Center, AsianWeek said in 2000 that the neighborhood “barely” remains.
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