East Downtown Houston (EaDo) is a district in Houston, Texas, United States. The East Downtown Management District (EDMD), manages the area with offices headquartered at START Houston, a co-working space 1121 Delano Street. The community is located east of Downtown Houston and north of Interstate 45 (Gulf Freeway). It is between the George R. Brown Convention Center and the East End district.
The Old Chinatown, an area within East Downtown bounded by Interstate 69/U.S. Route 59, Preston Street, St. Joseph Parkway, and Dowling Street (now Emancipation Avenue), is the older of the two Houston Chinatowns. The East Downtown Chinatown is not the same as the Chinatown in southwestern Houston.
In the 1930s many Cantonese immigrants moved to the former Houston Chinatown, then a part of the Third Ward area, from Downtown Houston in an effort to find more inexpensive land. The Cantonese opened several businesses, including grocery stores and restaurants, and held Chinese New Year celebrations. Immigrants from other East Asian countries, including Vietnam, moved into the Chinatown.
In the early 1950s the Chinese Merchants’ Association moved to the southeastern edge of Downtown Houston. Many Chinese businesses moved there, as a previous Chinatown in Downtown was replaced with commercial development by the 1970s. The EaDo Chinatown solidified as many Asian immigrants, including Viet Hoa, began moving to Houston in the 1970s. By the 1980s a theater, supermarkets, warehouses, a bank, and restaurants were located there.
By the late 1980s increasing numbers of Chinese began living in suburbs in Southwest Houston and Fort Bend County. In addition, the Chinatown was geographically hemmed in, with surrounding low income African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods and the Downtown area preventing additional growth. Two Chinese religious temples opened about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the old Chinatown in the 1990s. There had been plans from private entities and the city government to promote and assist the development of the old Chinatown, but the economic recession harmed those efforts. Anthony Knapp and Igor Vojnovic, authors of “Ethnicity in an Immigrant Gateway City: The Asian Condition in Houston,” wrote that “Into the early and mid-1990s, Old Chinatown had considerable promise and this was evident in just its role in promoting tourism.”
The general development plans never materialized. The sewer system was not extensive enough to handle the proposed development. One major street connecting the old Chinatown with Downtown was closed when the Brown Convention Center was expanded. By the 1990s, many of the East Asian businesses left and had relocated to the new current Chinatown in southwest Houston.
In a November 28, 2002 Houston Press article John Nova Lomax described what is now known as East Downtown Houston as “a silent, godforsaken stretch of no-man’s-land that’s not really the Warehouse District, nor the Third Ward, nor the East End.” Lomax said that he used “that bulky definition” since that by 2000, the name “Chinatown,” still used in the 1980s and 1990s, “was no longer apt.” The area received its current name in the late 2000s.
In 2008 the management district and its namethedistrict.com website asked for suggestions for a new name for the district. Suggestions included “the Warehouse District,” referring to the abandoned warehouses, and “Saint E,” after St. Emanuel Street, a key street and the location of several bars and clubs. The district selected “EaDo,” short for “East Downtown,” one of the three most popular suggestions for the name of the district.
During the same year Dan Nip, a developer and East Downtown Management District board member, encouraged people to invest in the Old Chinatown area in East Downtown; if a person invests $500,000 United States dollars in the Old Chinatown and subsequently creates two jobs for ten years, he or she would become eligible for a EB-5 visa. By late 2009 the East Downtown authority began re-branding the district to reflect its current name. By 2010 a community of artists began to form in EaDo.