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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

May 20, 2005

Written by C.N.

Washington D.C.’s Emergent Chinatown

The Pacific News Service has an interesting story about the recent emergence of Washington D.C.’s Chinatown. It describes that in the past, this very small Chinatown was just another area of a neglected urban landscape, rife with crime and stagnation. However, in recent years, due to a pro-business mayoral administration and development, trendy and fashionable stores are now located right next to established Chinatown businesses:

As a popular tourist attraction, however, Chinatown still functions well. Every Chinese New Year, thousands of affluent Chinese American families from nearby Maryland and Virginia come to watch the annual parade. And on weekdays, the district’s dozen remaining Chinese restaurants are packed full with hungry office workers. . .

Affluent national retail chains like Starbucks, Ruby Tuesday, TGIF, Anne Taylor and Hooters have elbowed their way into the six square block ward, giving a flashy, plate-glass gloss to the neighborhood.

For China-born Heung Me Ie, 75, who has lived in Chinatown for 15 years and works as a caretaker in the small Kwun Yum Temple, the changes are welcome. “I think the new shops and restaurants are all good,” she says in Cantonese. “Even if they are not Chinese, they make the streets more lively.”

Time will tell if these new corporate-backed non-Asian businesses eventually squeeze the older, smaller, more established Chinese businesses out (as they have apparently already begun doing), but for now at least, it sounds like it’s a “successful” blending of new and old, Asian and non-Asian — just like America itself.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Washington D.C.’s Emergent Chinatown" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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