Although there has long been a Chinese community in Ottawa, the official Chinatown designation is modern. In April, 1989, the City of Ottawa created a Business Improvement Area (BIA) called the Somerset Heights Business Improvement Area.
In 2005, the name was officially changed to the Chinatown Business Improvement Area. The major influence in the area is Chinese, but there is also a blend of Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and Thai influences and businesses. The BIA was extended to Preston Street in 2008.
In 2010, the Gateway Arch was built over Somerset Street, just west of Bronson Avenue. The elaborate gate is in the traditional Chinese style called a paifang.