Photos: D.C.’s Chinese New Year Parade

Thousands attended D.C.’s Chinese New Year parade on Sunday to celebrate the start of the year of the dragon. Organizers aimed to hold a bigger event this year, despite downtown seeing its Chinese American population decline.

“We know there have been a lot of changes in our city in recent years,” Mayor Vincent Gray told the crowd, reports Chinese Radio International, “but what hasn’t changed and will hopefully not change is the presence of Chinatown as an important cultural center here in the District of Columbia.”

Check out these Flickr photos of the parade by local photographers Glyn Lowe, Victoria Pickering and Russell Brammer: 


DCentric Picks: Chinese New Year Parade

Photo Phiend / Flickr

Participants in 2010's Chinese New Year parade.

What: Annual Chinese New Year parade.

When: From 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday.

Where: Chinatown, along H Street NW between 6th and 8th Streets.

Cost: Free.

Why you should go: Come to see firecrackers, dancers and plenty of dragons. Organizers of this year’s Chinese New Year parade want to make it one of the biggest yet. The Washington Post reports that the parade committee hopes that a bigger event will stir up pride within second- and third- generation Chinese-Americans, as well as alert people to the history of the neighborhood, which has seen a decline in Chinese residents.


Pushing the Homeless East of the River?

Tom Bridge / Flickr

A view of Anacostia from west of the river.

On Monday, we wrote about how a nonprofit’s plans to open a transitional housing building in downtown Anacostia for homeless women has sparked protests by neighbors. Some feel Anacostia is becoming a “dumping ground” for social services, and this is hurting the neighborhood’s chances for economic development.

DCentric commenter Ann-Marie Watt, who is opposed to the project run by Calvary Women’s Services, had this to add:

A couple of years ago, I was volunteering and spoke with a homeless man in McPherson Square park.  He said that he was an advocate for the homeless and operated a blog on homelessness issues.  He was sooo angry at DC and other groups moving their services to Anacostia.  He said that people were trying to get rid of the homeless population by moving them to the other side of the river.  He also said that it would be more difficult to get back to the other side every day.  So, what about that?…

Calvary is planning to relocate from Chinatown to Anacostia. It’s true that more job opportunities exist west of the Anacostia River than east of it. Traveling across the river can be timely or expensive; one alternative is the DC Circulator, which recently started running a rapid $1 bus line connecting Anacostia to the Potomac Avenue Metro across the river.

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D.C.’s Most Expensive Neighborhood for Businesses

jessstah / Flickr

The Friendship Archway is next to the commercial space with what may be the city's most expensive rent.

The storefront with the highest retail rent isn’t in Georgetown or Dupont Circle — it’s in Chinatown.

That’s according to DCMud, which reports that the only vacancy on the corner of 7th and H Streets NW is going for $250 to $300. That’s a lot. Georgetown businesses typically pay $100 to $120 per square foot, and Union Station, which currently has the city’s highest rates, leases space for about $200 per square foot, DCMud reports.

Although many of Chinatown’s most visible businesses are national chains, the neighborhood still has a number of small, family-owned restaurants, harkening back to a time when Chinatown still had a sizable immigrant Chinese population. But given the increase in retail rates in the neighborhood, those longing for a resurgence of mom-and-pops joints may want to look elsewhere.

Corner of 7th and H Streets NW.

Remembering a fixture of Chinatown

Late in November, a 78-year-old man named Quan Chu was struck by a bicyclist in an alley near the Convention Center. We learned on Tuesday that the strike was fatal.

As NPR’s Andy Carvin points out in an affecting eulogy to “the Mayor of Chinatown,” his passing robs Chinatown of yet another vital link to its past. What’s left is for us to learn, and remember:

He and his family came to the U.S. from China in 1982. They lived in a rowhouse about two blocks south of NPR. For years he worked at the local Chinese restaurants to save up enough money to send their children to college. And several years ago he suffered a minor stroke. As part of his therapy, he would go for that walk with his wife each day.

I never got to know him. I don’t even know if he even recognized me each day in the same way that I always recognized him. But I feel a profound sense of loss with his passing — not only for his wife and family, but for Chinatown itself.

This isn’t just a story about how recklessness and lack of consideration can have huge and tragic consequences. It’s a story about the importance of the strangers around us, a reminder of how much we should treasure and respect each other. Condolences are due to Mr. Chu’s beloved – the kids he helped put through college, his wife who was also struck that day. But Andy’s right, the loss is all of ours.