The Seventh Street District, the downtown area surrounding
the Washington Convention Center and the Verizon sports
complex, is also known as the Washington DC Chinatown
and shopping district. Here you will find everything from
fine Washington DC restaurants serving Chinese and diverse
ethnic cuisines, to great museums and theaters and movie
houses. Close by is the recently developed Verizon Center,
where DC's basketball and hockey teams, the Wizards and
the Capitals, host their home games. Here, also, concert
fans convene for major tours, spilling over into several
breweries, restaurants and sports bars that have developed
in the area. The Washington DC art gallery has found a
home in the Seventh Street District too, as its nightlife burgeons.
There is an interesting fusion of contemporary American culture and international exploration here. Within a few blocks of the Verizon Center, you can stroll under the enormous intricate Friendship Arch and find yourself immersed in the sounds, smells, and tastes of Chinatown. Considered Chinatown's "gateway," Friendship Arch is a vibrantly colored landmark, replete with thousands of glazed tiles, and giant panels with carved golden dragons. Featured in the center is a marble panel inscribed with characters from the Chinese language, which read "zhongguo cheng," meaning Chinese city.
After the DC riots of 1968, Chinatown deteriorated quickly, as did many other areas of Washington DC. With increasing taxation and crime, and a general decline in business, many of the Chinese residents, along with other DC natives, moved to the suburbs. In 1976, when Washington Metro opened a subway stop in the area, they named it "Gallery Place," acknowledging its artistic makeup but ignoring ethnic Chinatown completely.
In 1986, the city dedicated the Friendship Arch, and it was hoped the arch would reinforce the neighborhood's Chinese character. Each winter, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in grand fashion, and people from all over the Washington Metropolitan region gather for its fireworks and colorful parade. The neighborhood is now served by the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stop, in keeping with it dual identities.
In 2004, the Seventh Street District underwent a $200 million renovation, transforming the area into a bustling scene for nightlife, shopping and entertainment with high-end restaurants, a deluxe movie theater and exclusive department stores. Visitors to Washington DC enjoy the new Gallery Place, a complex with business, shopping, dining, and a 14-screen stadium-style movie theater, all within walking distance to many of DC's tourist attractions. Among the shops at Gallery Place, you will find Urban Outfitters, Aveda, Thai Chili, Ann Taylor, Clyde's, Benetton, Miso Hungry, Washington Sport and Health Clubs, just to name a few.
In addition to great Washington DC restaurants, Washington DC Chinatown and shopping, the Seventh Street District has nurtured many a Washington DC art gallery. The 7th Street Arts District and Gallery Row provide refreshingly cool respite during DC's sweltering summers, and hot art indoors when it's cold in the city, so you can't go wrong! Discover a whole host of treats for the senses and the soul in this four-block area, where urban renovation is itself a thing of ongoing beauty.