Your Destination Guide to Washington DC

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Chinatown/Seventh Street District

Chinatown/Seventh Street District
Chinatown/Seventh Street District

© Kim Baker

Chinatown, also known generally as the Seventh Street District, is located in the downtown area that includes the Washington Convention Center and the Verizon sports complex. Within a few blocks of the Verizon Center, the Gateway Friendship Arch -- world's largest single-span Chinese arch -- marks the entrance to Chinatown. The seven-roofed, tiled archway is decorated with Chinese characters reading "zhongguo cheng" meaning Chinese city or Chinese quarters.

Chinatown experienced its share of urban blight, accelerated after the DC riots in 1968, and many of the Chinese residents moved to the suburbs. The Friendship Arch was dedicated in 1986 to help reestablish the neighborhood's Chinese character. More recently, the Seventh Street District has been the center of a $200 million renovation, creating a high-end shopping and restaurant destination and busy nightlife. Among the new retail establishments is Gallery Place which includes several shops and restaurant as well as a large movie theater.

Each winter, the area celebrates the Chinese New Year with a grand parade and firecrackers.

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