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City of Seattle

July 14, 4:40 PM click here to comment > 0

New bilingual street name signs unveiled in the Chinatown-International District

Today Mayor Mike McGinn and Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) board member Tuck Eng unveiled the first of several bilingual street name signs at Dragon Fest, the Chinatown-International District’s summer festival. The first sign, located at the corner of Sixth Avenue South and South King Street, is being installed as part of a neighborhood wide program in Seattle’s historic Chinatown and Japantown. Over the summer, translated street name signs in English and Chinese, or English and Japanese will be added to over thirty intersections through a partnership between the CIDBIA and the City of Seattle.Mayor ID Street Signs 05 sm

“These signs will help us celebrate the ongoing diversity of the Chinatown-International District, as well as help people navigate the neighborhood,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “I want to thank the CIDBIA and the neighborhood stakeholders for helping get this done.”

The CIDBIA worked with over 100 neighborhood stakeholders, fifteen family associations, local ethnic media, the University of Washington and translators from the Seattle Municipal Court to translate the existing street names into traditional Chinese and Japanese. Neighborhood stakeholders identified translated street name signs as a way to recognize the historic significance and culture of the neighborhood. With the installation of the bilingual street name signs, the project provides a historic reminder of the populations that built this community, aids in preserving the CID’s identity, and supports wayfinding.

“We are thrilled to be the first district to introduce translated street signs to Seattle,” says Don Blakeney, the Executive Director of the CIDBIA. “Not only is it a wonderful reflection of the neighborhood’s rich cultural history, but a reflection of the international hub that Seattle has become.”

Translated street names will appear in white lettering on a brown background below the current legal name in white lettering on a green background. Each sign will be 18 inches in height and vary between 36, 42, and 48 inches in length.

Funding was provided by a $20,000 Small and Simple Matching Fund Grant through the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) in December 2012. The Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) Street Name Sign Program also contributed $6,000 from the voter approved Bridging the Gap ballot measure. Bridging the Gap funding was used to replace old existing signs already scheduled for upgrading. The bilingual street name signs will be maintained by SDOT and as with all other signs, design and placement adheres to federal and local standards.

The CIDBIA was founded in 1994, and works to improve and promote Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. In addition to providing sanitation services, the CIDBIA coordinates several of the neighborhood’s major events including the Night Markets, Lunar New Year Celebration and Dragon Fest. The CIDBIA also advocates on behalf of its constituents with respect to a host of public policy, planning, and quality‐of‐life issues. For more information about the Chinatown-ID BIA, log onto

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance