Chinatown Disneyfication?

Lydia DePillis of the Washington City Paper argues that much of the next wave of planned public realm enhancements to Chinatown is nothing more than superficial Disneyfication.

Among the items she singles out as superficial are converting the usually-blue wayfinding signs to ornamental red, installing Chinese inspired lampposts and benches, designing bike racks and crosswalks in the shape of stylized dragons, adding a “Chinese-themed” sculpture to Chinatown Park, the translation of street signs into Chinese characters, commissioning “Chinese-inspired” murals for blank commercial storefronts, and installing more decorative Zodiac pavers.

What are your thoughts? Do you support the improvements? Is it all too superficial? Or do you think some improvements make sense but the incorporation of dragons may be taking it farther than it needs to go?

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  1. 1

    G says

    I’m all for it. Disney is clean and safe, and Chinatown is not. Businesses like clean and safe, and if it takes superficial changes to attract business to the area (rather than boarded up vacant buildings and filthy bus stops) then Disney away. Fake it til you make it.

  2. 3

    FP says

    i think these changes are dumb. let’s face it, there is not much about DC chinatown that has to do with china. let’s just call it “historical chinatown” or something and not try to make it what it is not.

  3. 4

    CVKRez says

    If the DC Council can do something to lure an authentic, well-stocked, large-ish Asian grocery to Chinatown, all will be forgiven.

  4. 5

    JoD says

    I agree with CVKRez, the changes are kind of neat, but what would really make Chinatown a great place to go is more restriction on what business operate there. Right now the neighborhood is Dupont Circle with Chinese characters.