Washington DC – Chinatown and Friendship Gate


At Seventh and H Streets stands one of Washington’s most colorful monuments, the Chinatown Friendship Gate. Built in 1986, it was erected to celebrate friendship with Washington’s sister city of Beijing and to reinforce the neighborhood’s Chinese character. (Wikipedia) It’s a grand work of art.


With an entrance like this, one would think there would be a large and interesting Chinese neighborhood to explore. Well, here’s something valuable that I’ve learned in my time on this earth: Beware of sentences containing “one would think.” Washington’s Chinatown is little more than a one-block strip containing mostly restaurants. Having lived in San Francisco for over a decade with its huge and vibrant Chinatown, I was quite amazed both that DC’s Chinatown is so tiny and that such an imposing architectural structure would be a gateway to nowhere.


Is that all there is? Oh, I could show you three or four more restaurants on this strip, but really, this is pretty much it. It’s too bad because it could be so much more.

4 Responses to Washington DC – Chinatown and Friendship Gate

  1. Kate says:

    Love the name of this restaurant!!

  2. There are some nice Chinese restaurants nearby on H Street.
    The restaurant guide that the Washington Post Magazine publishes usually lists one or two, we have never been disappointed by their recommandations.

  3. Mike Lewis says:

    Actually most of Chinatown is not flashy or visible to the public, what you see is the tourist Chinatown, but there are massive apartment buildings, churches, and services for Chinese Americans in the neighborhood.

  4. Mike Lewis says:

    FYI – This resaurant above is the Mary Surratt Boarding house where John Wiles Booth planned the Lincoln assassination. Mary Surratt was hanged in 1865.

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