Chinatown/Penn Quarter is a neighborhood in the east end of Downtown D.C. Penn Quarter is southeast of the Metro Center shopping district and has been rejuvenated over the past several decades, stimulated first by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) and later, by the Verizon Center, a sports, concert and event arena that opened nearby in 1997 as the MCI Center. Penn Quarter now boasts a variety of entertainment and commercial establishments including museums, theaters, restaurants, bars, and contemporary art galleries.
The area is also home to a popular farmers market and several food, wine, art, and culture focused festivals. Penn Quarter’s initial growth occurred under the PADC whose Pennsylvania Avenue Plan called for a mixed-use neighborhood. The plan was to include residences, offices, theaters and other cultural venues, retail, hotels, and restaurants in both new and renovated buildings framing new parks and plazas. Revitalization started with a number of developments west of the FBI Building to 15th Street, most significantly the renovation of what today is the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, and the creation of new parks and plazas, including Pershing Park, Freedom Plaza, and the Navy Memorial.
The nearby Verizon Center, which opened in 1997, also helped stimulate the revitalization of adjacent blocks to the north and east and the Penn Quarter neighborhood to the south. On Thursday afternoons in spring, summer, and fall, the FRESHFARM Penn Quarter farmers market is open on 8th Street, just south of E Street. A local favorite, the Newseum is located at the intersection of 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The building also includes offices and television studio space, The Source, a restaurant by Wolfgang Puck , and the Newseum Residences, an apartment rental community.
Several exercise clubs as well as various entertainment facilities and the Lucky Strike bowling alley serve the neighborhood. Other neighborhood amenities include several coffee shops and a teahouse/restaurant on 8th Street, three salons with day spas, the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, the nearby Landmark E Street Cinema, Regal Theater, and a variety of shops selling clothing, jewelry, ice cream, and books. Over the past thirty years the neighborhood has transformed from a sleepy, nondescript part of downtown into a vibrant 24-hour residential and commercial community.