The district consists of a collection of early 20th century commercial and hotel buildings. This district forms the center of Seattle’s diverse Asian American community. Established in 1973 in order to retain the district’s historic character following the significant impacts of Interstate 5 construction in the late 1960s that cut across the east portion of the district, removing many buildings and contributing to the shutdown of over half of the district’s hotels and the relocation of many businesses. This neighborhood is unique in the nation for the settlement of Chinese, Filipino, African American, and Vietnamese settling together to create a single neighborhood. Early arrivals were largely men seeking work and living in the single room occupancy hotels.
Points of Interest
Chinatown, built by Chinese, core of this area was along King Street, included markets, and represented a rebuild of the former Chinatown near Second Avenue and South Washington Street displaced by a street realignment in the 1920s.
Nihonmachi, Japantown, near Main Street, to the north of the Chinatown. It included markets, bathhouses, and other businesses catering to the Japanese community. The Japanese internment during World War II decimated this community as its residents were forcibly taken to internment camps.
Built in 1910, the Panama Hotel was designed by the first Japanese-American architect in Seattle, Sabro Ozasa. The Panama was essential to the Japanese community, the building houses businesses, a bathhouse, sleeping quarters for residents and visitors, and restaurants. Today, the hotel is significant for housing the belonging of the Japanese families in Seattle once Executive Order 9066 was enacted and Japanese residents were evacuated to internment campus as well as housing the last remaining Japanese bathhouse (sento) in the United States.
Filipino community, arriving through work in canneries, they settled in and operated small businesses within the district.
African Americans settled in the district, giving rise to diners, night clubs, tailor shops, and groceries along with a vibrant jazz scene along Jackson Street.