The Chinese New Year period starts with the New Moon as the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. So this year the Lunar New Year celebrations began on February 3rd and will culminate with the Lantern Festival (Yuan-Xiao Festival) on the 17th.
The annual DC Chinese New Year’s Parade was held last Sunday but on the Saturday night we had hosted a Big Lebowski party which included a movie viewing and way too many White Russians……. so we barely raised the blinds last Sunday!
Today I was “downtown” to meet a friend and took a few snaps of the Friendship Arch as I got off the train at Chinatown. It doesn’t make up for missing the parade, which is so wonderfully colourful, but the history of our Chinatown arch is quite interesting.
In 1984, then Mayor Marion Barry went to Beijing for a ceremony which established Washington and Beijing as sister cities and where the planning of the Friendship Arch project began – to be in the style of the Qing dynasty (1649-1911).
Construction began in June 1986 and it was completed by November 1986. It stands 47 feet tall at its highest point; it spans 75 feet and weighs over 128 tons! The roof alone weighs nearly half that at 63 tons – there are 27 tons of steel and 38 tons of concrete.
In June 1990 one of the 100lb carved dragons fell off – the same evening Marion Barry announced he would not be running for Mayor again at the end of his term (he’d been arrested in January for possession of cocaine).
In 1993 there was a major renovation of the Archway funded by both DC Government and the Chinese Government and then again in 2009 the entire archway was sanded back and repainted.
It’s also pretty from the underside – though not advisable to stand in the middle of the road admiring it! Actually most of its the construction was done at night so that the roads did not have to be closed to traffic during the day.