Flanking downtown Washington, D.C. are the two very different DC neighborhoods of Dupont Circle and Chinatown, which each offer great residential living, funky shopping, a vibrant nightlife scene, and more.
Centered in the heart of the city is Dupont Circle, one of the most famous, affluent, and prominent districts within D.C. Its deep rooted art culture, funky shops, and trendy bars and restaurants make Dupont Circle one of the most sought after in the D.C. area. In a 2009 poll by NBC Washington.com, it even won out over Georgetown as the best place to live in the District.
The neighborhood is a preferred habitat for the wealthy diplomatic set, but it also prides itself on its culture diversity and welcomes alternative lifestyles. If money were no object, many young adults moving to DC would always choose to live in Dupont Circle. However, real estate and rental prices here are among the highest in the city.
Dupont Circle actually is a circle with a lush green park that is a gathering place, with plenty of benches for socializing. People come to eat lunch, stroll, play chess, people watch, or enjoy the tranquility. There are also 22 Art on Call boxes in the area showcasing the art and history of this vibrant area that represent the work of local artists that pedestrians can enjoy. The tall, beautiful Dupont Memorial Fountain marks the center of Dupont Circle’s thriving commercial district of retail stores, office buildings, cafes, restaurants, and cultural attractions surround the park.
A bit southeast of the downtown, Chinatown in Washington, D.C. is a small, historic neighborhood nestled in along H and I Streets between 5th and 8th Streets. Originally a German area, Chinese immigrants started to populate the area in the 1930s when they were displaced from their original settlement on Pennsylvania Avenue with the building of the Federal Triangle government complex. The new residents added decorative metal latticework and Chinese signage, including the glittering gold and tiled gate, the Friendship Arch, Chinatown’s most visible and beautiful landmark and the gateway to the neighborhood.
D.C.’s 4-block Chinatown is smaller than the Chinatown districts in New York or San Francisco, but it is still an authentic, colorful and charming ethnic community that was renovated several years ago. What people come to Chinatown for is still there. You can still shop for teas and herbs at grocery stores and enjoy a steaming bowl of shrimp dumpling soup at Full Kee or watch the chef making noodles in the window of Chinatown Express. Each winter, the Chinese New Year is still celebrated here in a dazzling fashion complete with a colorful parade featuring drummers, musicians, lion and dragon dancers and thousands of popping firecrackers. The 20 or more Asian restaurant coexist with national chains, which hang their signs out front in Chinese.
However, Chinatown is now a bustling scene for nightlife, shopping and entertainment and up-an-coming place to live and work. There are new and renovated condos in the area, including the Clara Barton, the Lafayette, and Ventana, plus a new mixed-use development Gallery Place with 192 condos and 250,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, and retail. Chinatown is home to 700 Six, a 12 LEED certified green office building.
Dupont Circle and Chinatown rank as two of D.C.’s most interesting neighborhoods.