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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

February 10, 2010 at 2:11 PM

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Happy belated birthday to Chinatown's gate

Posted by Gabriel Campanario


Feb. 9, 11:08 a.m. [Click on sketch to view larger]

The distinctive 45-foot tall archway that welcomes you into Chinatown at S. King Street and 5th Avenue S. turned 2 on Tuesday. The gate was unveiled on Feb. 9, 2008, as part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations, which fall on Feb. 13 this year.

Lead architect Paul Wu said this is the only Chinatown gate in the world with sideways columns. "It's more like a pavilion than a flat, two-dimensional gate," he said.

The uniqueness wasn't on purpose, explained Wu. It came from some constraints that were incorporated into the design to follow Seattle Department of Transportation regulations. "We had to turn the columns sideways because the sidewalk is not wide enough," Wu said. They also had to make it taller to meet clearance height.

For Wu, who led a team of architects here and in China, it was a privilege to be part of the project. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he studied in Oklahoma and moved to Seattle 30 years ago.

Wu said this gate is technically a West Gate, and there are plans to complete the project with an East Gate at 12th Avenue S. and S. King Street, where it will be visible from I-5.

Not only did I miss the current gate going up in 2008, I thought it had been here for years. When the second one goes up, now I know where I need to be.

Chinatown gate is dedicated in Seattle on Feb. 9, 2008
New archway to distinguish Chinese International District
Historic gate provides another link to Chinatown's roots

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