Is Chinatown Authentic?

There’s an article in the Post today that’s going to cause some coronaries amongst the DC crowd. The section in question reads:

Despite Gallery Place’s prefab jumble of modern and historic-looking facades, he pronounced it free of “urban development crimes.”

“They didn’t violate this neighborhood by destroying its history,” he said, though he looked askance at a CVS sign and a Fuddruckers.

I’m sure that Wayan is having an apoplectic fit right about now. Has the character of Chinatown changed to make it “more authentic” to the “Creative Class” that DC is courting for its revitalization? Can authenticity be engineered and designed by city planners, or is it something that can only happen after the fact? Does Chinatown represent any of that?

6 Comments so far

  1. wayan (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

    “Apoplectic fit”? No, just a cerebral embolism that _anyone_ would even think that Chinatown is free of “urban development crimes.”

    Chinatown itself is a urban development crime. Slapping Chinese on a Fudruckers or Hooters (!) sign is not “creative”, its downright degrading – to Hooters as much as the Chinese who lived there.

    And since the Chinese in Chinatown left long ago, and will not be coming back anytime soon, I’m not saying we need to keep it “pure” or “authentic”.

    Keep the name as a location. Like Tenleytown or Georgetown, but please, for the love of design, give up the “Chinese” theme. Its a worse affront than Disney’s Epcot Center.

    At least there they are honest that it’s all a show.

  2. wayan (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 4:06 pm

    Reading more of his article I see he’s impressed by the Chinatown crowd:

    What appealed to him was the variety of people that flowed past. “It would be interesting to sit here with a notebook and code who you think is here,” he said, “You got new immigrants, IT guys, security guards.”

    This guy really needs to get out of his Cleveland Park study more and past his Pittsburgh white background. Chinatown, I would argue, is more heterogeneous – mainly suburbanites for MCI Center and kids for Gallery Place cruising – than places like Brookland that he just drove through, or Columbia Heights or Capitol Hill, or Waterfront, or… anywhere else in the city with the exception of Georgetown and his upper Connecticut Avenue home.

  3. Tiffany (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

    Excuse me? “Pittsburgh white background?” Have you actually spent any time in Pittsburgh?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  4. Wayan (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

    From the 2000 census:

    For people reporting one race, 67 percent were White alone; 29 percent were Black or African American; less than 0.5 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native; 4 percent were Asian; fewer than 0.5 percent were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 1 percent were Some other race

    29% black is lilly white compared to DC, and I have $20 that says Florida lived in Squirrel Hill too.

  5. Robis (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    Unless one is living in Downtown Pittsburgh, it’s pretty much white.

    But to the subject at hand, I have to agree with Wayan. It’s obvious that Florida didn’t really look around too much. Did he miss the big lotus flower sitting on top the building at the intersection?

  6. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on September 19th, 2006 @ 11:18 am

    Relevant bio:

    Rutgers, Columbia, Harvard, MIT. Flordia’s been outside Pittsburgh.

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