Chinatown is one of the most unique and historically rich areas in D.C., and it’s widely regarded as one of DC’s hottest areas. Established in the 1930s, as Chinese immigrants arrived to the city, Chinatown is home to a large number of small businesses and cafes, and over the years it has emerged as a prime nightlife destination, providing a myriad of entertainment options.

The Boom of Business

Nowadays, Chinatown is home to about 20 Asian themed businesses, including famous Chinese American restaurants (Chinatown Express, Eat First, Full Kee, and Tony Cheng's) and retail chains, such as Ping Pong Dim Sum, Zengo and Daikaya. In 1997, the Verizon Center (formerly known as MCI Center), a sports and entertainment arena, was built in Chinatown, bringing about major development and revitalization in the area. Soon after, the 7th street was completely transformed, introducing various mixed-use developments that brought more retail, office and residential space to the neighborhood.

Within a very short time, major national chains, including Starbucks, Hooters, Urban Outfitters and others established in Chinatown, while modern office space has lured in such high-tech companies as Blackboard and Living Social. To cater to the needs of young professionals flowing in the area, a bowling alley, various bars and a cinema complex have been established, turning Chinatown into a nightlife center. Coupled with the world-renowned cultural establishments, such as the Shakespeare Theatre, Smithsonian’s American Art and other museums, the neighborhood has been put on the map as a major tourist destination.

Barely Asian Anymore

Major development has brought a myriad of new job opportunities, and for the past few decades, young professionals and graduates have flocked to Chinatown, irrevocably shifting the area from being a landmark for Chinese culture to simply being an advanced urban neighborhood. Even though business signs in the area are still mandatory to have text in Chinese, you’ll rarely hear Chinese spoken on the streets. Chinese architecture, the Chinese Community Church, and the colorful Friendship Archway created in partnership with Beijing and 16 Chinese artists remind of the Asian cultural influence that used to flow through the neighborhood in the 20th century, although the current Chinese population in the area is below 20%, measuring in only a few hundred residents.

Although gentrification and development has turned Chinatown from a major Asian community into a booming business and entertainment district, the cultural imprint is still strong. Combining the best of urban amenities with a unique cultural character, Chinatown is perhaps one of the most interesting – and promising – neighborhoods in D.C.

Chinese or Asian themed businesses in Chinatown - 30

Yearly events at the Verizon Center - 220

New residential units to deliver by the end of 2014 within a half-mile - 1,534

Average monthly Capital Bikeshare arrivals2 - 22,347

Average household income within a half-mile - $109k

 Source : Neighborhood Profiles: 2014 Edition. (2014, February 17). Washington, DC Economic Partnership, Retrieved from


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Listing information last updated on October 22nd, 2017 at 1:11am CDT.