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One branch of my family ran a restaurant in Chinatown for many years; they moved out to Montgomery County when their house was demolished for the Metro entrance. Living in the central city then, particularly in the tense aftermath of the 1968 riots, wasn't exactly a picnic. I think a distant cousin still runs a restaurant out in Annapolis or somewhere.

Many cities have seen Chinatowns come and go; indeed, my grandparents' old neighborhoods in LA and Boston are gentrifying, and even in Asian cities (Singapore, Honolulu, Hong Kong) old "Chinatowns" are prized by gentrifiers for their authentic grittiness. Like any other ethnic neighborhood in melting-pot America, it can only retain its character as long as it's sustained by a constant flow of new immigrants. Chinatown here never had the critical mass to spawn its own export industries, unlike in NYC where garment manufacturing, import-export, and food processing for a broader Chinese market provide entry-level jobs for new immigrants.

Speaking of transliterations, the one for Legal Sea Foods disappoints me; it's just "seafood restaurant." Surely in DC they could've worked in some reference to the law.

by Payton on Feb 22, 2011 4:01 pm • linkreport

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