Friendship Archway

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H Street & 7th Street, Washington, DC, USA
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Night
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Night
Friendship Archway - Friendship Archway - Night

Friendship Archway Washington Reviews

spocklogic spocklog…
325 reviews
Gateway to Chinatown in DC Aug 14, 2015
Located over H St. near 7th St in DC is the Gateway to Chinatown, known as the "Friendship Archway", so-called to honor friendship of Washington, DC with one of its sister cities, Beijing, China, and also to to symbolize the spirit of friendship among people of diverse backgrounds. Traditionally, in China, an archway (or paifang) were built as public recognition of people who made contributions to society or served their community well. It was considered a great honor to be worthy of such an archway.

The Friendship Archway in DC was built in 1986, stands 47 feet (14.3 m) tall at the top of its highest roof, spans 75 feet (22.9 m) across the 4 lane roadway, and weighs over 128 tons. The roof alone weighs 63 tons, supported by 27 tons of steel and 38 tons of concrete. Over 7,000 glazed tiles cover its five roofs, and 35,000 separate wooden pieces are decorated in gold. A collection of dragons, 12 carved and 272 painted, adorn the archway. The style reflects the classic Qing dynasty (1649-1911) and was designed by Alfred Liu, an established architect from Taiwan and chairman of the Chinatown Development Corporation.

There was some controversy surrounding its building concerning the involvement in the construction by the Beijing Ancient Architectural Construction Corporation and it was felt by many Chinatown businessmen, who had ties to Communist China's rival, Taiwan, that it would associate them with Chinese Communists. In the end, the district built the concrete pillars and the rest was fabricated in China and installed by skilled Chinese craftsmen brought to Washington by the US government under the supervision of Liu. It has undergone some repair and restorations in 1993 and 2009.

At the time it was built it was the largest single span Chinese Archway in the world, but uncertain if this is still true. Many such archways have additional support pillars for the span, so this one is unusual being such a long single span type, and cantilevered without external braces. The construction is called dougong (meaning cap & block) consisting of interlocking wooden brackets as tenon & mortise joints instead of using nails or screws to give it a well balanced and a rigid structure. The earliest evidence in China using dougong brackets dates to 1100 B.C., so it is a very ancient technique.

The following poem entitled "The Spirit of the Friendship Archway" was written by Dwan L. Tai, Ph.D. for the Inauguration of the Friendship Archway in 1986:

Not like the olden times where hatred flamed

Where folks failed to forgive and pain endured,

A Mighty Spirit with a love that cures

Has come to Washington, to us explain,

To help us realize a dream so named,

To learn and serve through Chinese joint ventures;

Gifts of good will and faith with overtures

The Friendship Archway Spirit now proclaims!

"Give us your thoughts, your wisdom and your cheer

And we give you what you desire to find.

Let’s build a world that sees no need for fear

With Sister Cities’ love, let us be kind.

Let's share our strengths, exchange our best for years,

For friendship we invest, the tie that binds."

Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Day
Friendship Archway - Night
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Zagnut66 says:
I wasn't aware of the Archway's significance in terms of its size. Great review Brian!
Posted on: Oct 02, 2015
Cho says:
I was in Chinatown on one of my trips to Washington, DC and remember seeing this Archway. Quite impressive!
Posted on: Oct 02, 2015
vances says:
Since they used tenon & mortise, the poem is spot on calling this a "joint" venture...

Posted on: Oct 02, 2015
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