“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chinatown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


Civil War to Civil Rights


— Downtown Heritage Trail —

Chinatown Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, March 8, 2019
1. Chinatown Marker
dragons to bring rain,
and friendship

More than 280 dragons, crowned by 700 glazed tiles, look down from the Chinatown Friendship Archway before you. Symbols of the spirits that bring rain and prosperity in China, these painted and carved dragons are fitted together like a giant jigsaw puzzle in the ancient Chinese building tradition of "gong" balancing. Seven roofs weighing nine tons each are cantilevered, with no nails, almost 50 feet above the street.

This is the largest single-span Chinese archway in the world, designed by Chinese-born Washington architect Alfred Liu and erected in 1986. A joint project of the governments of Washington, D.C. and its Chinese sister city, Beijing, it marks the entrance to Washington's Chinatown in a statement of international friendship. Chinese and American craftsmen worked side by side to construct it.

The Chinese community in Washington dates back to the 1880s, when immigrants settled along Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and Sixth Streets, N.W. Forced out by construction of the Federal Triangle in the 1930s, the
Chinatown Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, March 8, 2019
2. Chinatown Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
community relocated here with the help of the On Leong Chinese Merchants Association. They moved into homes once occupied by German Christian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Some of the city's oldest pre-Civil War buildings, with flat fronts and sloped roofs, can still be seen beneath the neighborhood's colorful Chinese façades.

While many Chinese Americans have left the area for newer homes in the city and suburbs, the community is dedicated to preserving a slice of Chinese culture downtown. Calvary Baptist Church at 8th and H, the first to create a Chinese Sunday School here, is still involved with the community. St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church near 5th and H has regular Masses in Cantonese. Chinese symbols and signs preserve the spirit of this special place, and residents of the metropolitan area flock to the annual Chinese New Year's dragon parade.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.10.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureAsian AmericansBridges & ViaductsChurches & Religion. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1986.
Location. 38° 53.977′ N, 77° 1.322′ W. Marker is in Chinatown
Chinatown Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. Makali Bruton, September 24, 2016
3. Chinatown Marker
Note the Friendship Archway in the background.
in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on 7th Street Northwest south of H Street Northwest, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 702 H Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Friendship Archway (within shouting distance of this marker); Discover DC / Gallery Place - Chinatown (within shouting distance of this marker); The Northern Baptist Convention (within shouting distance of this marker); Mary Surratt's Boarding House (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Surratt Boarding House" (about 500 feet away); Man with Briefcase (about 500 feet away); Lin Han, noodle master (about 600 feet away); Vaquero (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chinatown.
More about this marker. This marker replaced a marker with the same name and slightly different text and photographs that was numbered e.6.
Additional keywords. Chinese-Americans
Friendship Archway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, July 14, 2008
4. Friendship Archway
H Street, NW, around the corner from marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 9, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 9, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3. submitted on March 14, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   4. submitted on October 18, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.

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Dec. 8, 2022