Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chinatown DC

From thousands, DC Chinatown has less than 700 Chinese inhabitants. What happened? Suburbanization and Americanization? The aspects that people like about an 'authentic' Chinatown may contradict the ideal living situation. Lots of people in one place? Goods at minimal price? It doesn't sound like American dream. When developers started taking interest in the property at the western end of Chinatown- then the east end of downtown when City builds a Convention Center (early 1980's) and displaces some people, but as a government they build an apartment building a few blocks away for them. There goes part of the neighborhood . You know, the area around there has been so developed in the last 25 years that I can't image the low-rising tenements and small buildings. Then in the '90's the 4-block MCI center takes out another chunk. And guess what happens after the stadium moves in? Gentrification! Changes in the law instituted to preserve Chinatown's character prevented urban renewal and required businesses to display a sign in Chinese (no doubt that some of the signs are fudged). So that's DC Chinatown.

Conclusion- for delicious, authentic Asian food and products in the DC area, consult a directory, steer to Annandale or Rockville, and bring a car. DC doesn't really have a Chinatown anymore in the traditional sense. I read somewhere that the DC area hosts the 3rd largest US Chinese population, but you can't pinpoint that because of full integration. Now isn't that better than a self-segregated Chinatown?

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