Finding Asian American History in Washington, DC

These highlighted sites are among those researched for DC’s first Asian American Historical Context Statement, a project produced by the 1882 Foundation for the DC Historic Preservation Office and the DC Preservation League through funding from the National Park Service’s Underrepresented Communities Grant Fund.


These sites provide only a small glimpse into the range of places where Asian Americans have lived, gathered, and built community in the city for more than a century—against the backdrop of turbulent geopolitical shifts, as well as over half a century of US immigration policy that excluded Asians.


For more information on Asian American history in DC, see the "Further Resources" stop of this tour.

Finding Asian American History: Union Market Shops

Union Market, previously Florida Market, has been supplying food products to DC residents since 1931. From the 1970s to the 1990s, a majority of the market was run by Asian immigrants who also started Asian food and import businesses, such as tofu…

Finding Asian American History: Manila House

Manila House was purchased by the Visayan Circle in 1937. It served as a boarding house and gathering place for cab drivers, students, writers, musicians, soldiers, and Philippine government workers until the early 1960s. American Book Award…

Finding Asian American History: American Fazl Mosque

The American Fazl Mosque was established by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1950. A converted house, the building was selected and acquired through the assistance of Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan (1893-1985), a lawyer and diplomat, who was Pakistan's…

Finding Asian American History: Washon Ye Headstone

Washon Ye, was reportedly the first Korean to be born in the US (October 12, 1890). The son of Ye Cha Yun (이채연), the fourth minister to the Korean Legation in DC, Washon was named for his birth city and christened at the Church of the Covenant. He…

Finding Asian American History: Old Korean Legation Museum

A Korean Legation was organized in DC in the 1880s after Korea and the US established diplomatic relations. Originally located on O Street NW, the Legation was based in this Logan Circle building from 1889 until Japan annexed Korea in 1910. Today, it…

Old Chinese Legation

Located at the corner of 19th and Vernon streets NW, the Old Chinese Legation was only the second purpose-built legation (after the British Embassy) in Washington, DC. The old British Embassy on Connecticut Avenue NW has since been demolished, making…

Finding Asian American History: Da Hsin Company

Da Hsin Company began operating at this site in the 1980s and provides Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) services in addition to selling homewares, gifts, and dry goods. The TCM counter sells processed TCM ingredients that clients boil into soup.…

On Leong Chinese Merchants Association

The On Leong Chinese Merchants Association building is significant as the long-time home of On Leong Tong (from 1932 to 1997), the city’s preeminent Chinese benevolent association. Mutal aid organizations like On Leong Tong played a critical role in…

Finding Asian American History: Wah Luck House

The Wah Luck House was built in 1982, making it one of the oldest affordable housing complexes in Chinatown. It is home to the most densely concentrated group of Chinese residents in DC. The Wah Luck House also serves as a central meeting place for…

Finding Asian American History: Temple of Cun Yum

The Temple of Cun Yum relocated to this building in the late 1990s from its original location on the 4th floor of the former Golden Palace Restaurant on 7th Street NW. The Temple is rooted in Chinese Buddhist practices, and its primary worshippers…

Finding Asian American History: Chinese Community Church

Originally, the CCC met at Mount Vernon Methodist Episcopal Church. Since then, it has relocated several times to support the congregation’s growth, moving to its current location at 500 I Street NW in 2006. The CCC is also home to the Chinatown…

Finding Asian American History: Further Resources

This tour was curated by the 1882 Foundation in collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the University of Maryland Historic Preservation Program.Access their websites here in addition to further resources on…
The map contains information and assets adapted from content that has been researched and produced by: Nuria Benitez, Gabi Chu, Ella Hankins, Wei Gan, Ted Gong, Sojin Kim, Grace Dahye Kwon, Christine Han, Keani Lei Lee, Jenn Low, Emma Chunhua Lucier-Keller, Maliha Luqman, Michelle Magalong, Audrey Meigs, Mia Owens, Claudia Vinci, Mengshu Ye, Karen Yee, Jenny Yi

Project advisors: Harry Chow, Jack Lee, Penny Lee, Samir Meghelli, Phil Nash, Franklin Odo, Julie Park, Tony Sarmiento Richard Wong, Shirley and Walter Woo.

This tour was uploaded to the site and is managed by the DC Preservation League. To contact the organization, email info@dcpreservation.org.