Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sometimes shouldn't you just call it a day: maintaining DC's Chinatown

"Spectacular shopping," Chinatown advertising, digital billboard, Gallery Place, DC
I have written about this issue over the years. The Washington City Paper Housing Complex blog has a piece, "More Disneyfication Coming to Chinatown," about new proposals for enhancing Chinatown's identity (Chinatown Public Realm Draft Plan).

I think it's time to call it a day on Chinatown. For a long time, it's been Gallery Place. A handful of Chinese restaurants, a couple stores selling Asian knick-knacks, some lightpoles, and a senior housing building that looks the same as any other housing building constructed in the 1960s or 1970s doesn't make a place "Chinatown."

Compared to thriving Asian communities within other cities, such as Chinatown in Manhattan or the Chinatownization of Main Street Flushing (see "In Neighborhood That's Diverse, a Push for Signs" and "The Melting Pot on a High Boil in Flushing" from the New York Times), putting Chinese characters on signs for restaurants and other retail establishments just doesn't cut it.
Chinese styled lamposts and lights, Chinatown, DC

Let it go.

In our region, Chinatown or Asiantown--because the Chinese presence has been augmented and supplanted by Vietnamese and Koreans--has long since decamped to Route 7 in Fairfax County.

Chinatown Fuddruckers and Starbucks

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