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Chinatown Friendship Archway

Great American Rail-Trail

Architecture Asian American/Pacific Islander History Migration & Immigration

The completed archway welcomes visitors to Chinatown.

Although the Chinatown Friendship Archway was built in 1986, a Chinese community has lived and owned businesses in this area of Northwest Washington, D.C., since the 1880s. [1] In 1984, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong declared their cities “sisters” and agreed to work together to build a traditional Chinese archway in the District of Columbia. Local architect Alfred Liu was chosen to design the archway, and his Qing Dynasty-inspired, 75-foot-long, 47-foot-tall archway took seven months for skilled Chinese craftsmen to construct. [2] It now stands as the gateway to a neighborhood that is more historically Chinese than it is a present-day Chinatown. Although all businesses in the neighborhood are required to have Chinese signage, and there are a number of Chinese or Asian restaurants, few residents of the neighborhood are Chinese. Many moved to the suburbs when they could afford to do so, while others were displaced by the construction of a convention center in the 1980s and the Verizon Center arena in the 1990s. By 2015, only 300 Chinese residents remained in the neighborhood. [3]

 

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