WAMU | FEB 25
This Is How The Eden Center Became A Hub For Vietnamese In Virginia
We’re digging into the past, present, and future of Eden Center, the mall that for more than 30 years has been a home for Virginia’s Vietnamese community. Today we explore how the shopping plaza was built; tomorrow we’ll hear how Eden Center is looking to the future.
It’s a few days before the Vietnamese New Year in early February at Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia, and the highest concentration of Vietnamese-owned businesses under one roof in America is a buzz of activity preparing for this annual celebration. At Huong Binh Bakery, 87-year old Anh Le sits at the counter putting the finishing touches on handmade pink pork rolls. His son Quang takes stock of popular holiday items like Bánh chưng and Mứt dừa, making sure there’s enough for the tide of customers about to roll in. Behind the clock tower and just inside of the mall, Vicki Tu of Dupont Central Jewelry helps a customer decide on the perfect bracelet to give as a new year’s gift. Her husband David, glasses slipping down his nose, watches as a worker chisels away on a ring. All around the roughly 120-store, 200,000 square foot shopping plaza, the words Chúc mừng năm mới reverberate through the air as preparations are underway for the Year of the Pig.
The story of how this Northern Virginia community came together starts in Vietnam. For two long decades, from 1955 to 1975, the country was consumed by civil war. America joined in the fight by sending more than three million American troops overseas in support of the South Vietnamese government repelling the North Vietnamese communists. It didn’t work: On April 30, 1975, the city of Saigon fell to the communists.