Audio section read by Ashley Harrison
Welcome to the Seattle Green Book Self-Guided Tour! This tour starts at King Street Station and continues up Jackson Street to the former site of Seattle's historic Black & Tan Club, following a trail of businesses listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book, which was published over a thirty-year period starting in 1936.
Most sites we'll visit today were listed in at least one edition of the Green Book. Four of these sites were not listed but are included here because they represent the links between past and present, and because these historic spaces - or ideas - have been revitalized and updated to meet present-day needs. This includes the Black & Tan Club itself, which was located at 12th & Jackson. Perhaps surprisingly, it never appeared in the Green Book directory, but we at Black & Tan Hall in the Rainier Valley aim to channel and uplift its legacy today.
For some Seattle businesses listed in the Green Book, we’ve found fascinating stories; others were open briefly and were little-documented. For the latter locations, we use the business as a jumping-off point to talk about broader forces and themes in Seattle’s history, such as the effects of Prohibition on businesses along this corridor.
First, a few notes on the tour itself:
You can even leave feedback by phone or share your stories and recollections of the tour sites. To do so, dial (206)-202-6458 and press *0 at any time. Visit the Feedback and Contact page for more information.
This tour was developed by Seattle organization Black & Tan Hall. Initially planned as an in-person guided tour, during the COVID-19 pandemic we shifted to this online format to provide this information accessibly, for free, and on an ongoing basis, in order to lift up lesser-known local histories.
Audio section read by Ashley Harrison
This tour relies heavily on pioneering history research by Esther Mumford and by Dr. Quintard Taylor. Both have spent decades contributing books, articles, websites, and oral histories on Seattle's early Black residents, and their work is foundational to our collective understanding of African-American history in the Pacific Northwest. Esther and her husband Donald were also founding members of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, and Dr. Taylor founded and developed the site BlackPast.org
The Black Heritage Society of Washington State generously gave permission to feature their research in the entry on Ruth Whiteside's Beauty Parlor and Beauty School.
We also rely on Paul de Barros' book Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, and on his ongoing work to uncover and document stories of the early jazz clubs and the predominantly Black musicians who created and sustained them.
We're delighted that Paul de Barros came on board as a collaborator on this project. Paul contributed feedback and enhancements throughout, particularly in sections related to jazz musicians, key performances at venues in Seattle, and the music playlists. Paul generously shared original audio from some of his extensive oral history interviews with a number of jazz musicians. Paul's original research regarding the Club Royale is included in the Club Royale / Louisa Hotel site entry. We also thank Paul for lending his copyediting skills.
Additionally, Black & Tan Hall is grateful to the following community partners and historians for their feedback and suggestions on early versions of this content:
Most importantly, none of this would have been possible without the work of Victor and Alma Green, who compiled and published the Green Book over several decades, and their national network of colleagues, who identified locations to list in the guide. Equally essential were two Black-owned Seattle newspapers of the early 20th century, the Northwest Enterprise and Cayton's Weekly. Their contemporaneous coverage of Seattle's Black community was the source of many key facts and discoveries featured in this tour.
We are grateful to the Library of Congress for digitizing these two newspapers, along with hundreds of others. Without their national historic newspaper digitization project, we would not have been able to complete this project during the pandemic due to the closures of critical archives and libraries which house physical copies of these materials.
Learn more about the research resources we used at the More to Explore page at the tour's end.
Audio section read by Elena Perez
Seattle and all sites in this tour are situated on unceded lands of the Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples, whose tribal communities lived here for millennia before settlers arrived in 1851.
Early white settlers in Seattle burned down the traditional longhouses in the city in an effort to drive out the Duwamish people. The Duwamish never left, and in 2008, the Duwamish rebuilt a longhouse in Seattle, the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, which is open to visitors. You can also patronize their online gift shop.
If you are a non-Native person residing in the Seattle region, consider making a monthly contribution to Real Rent Duwamish to support the Duwamish Tribe's work to preseve their cultural heritage and ensure that their members' needs are met. Black & Tan Hall believes that those of us who have settled here must take reparative action in order to be in right relationship with the land and its original inhabitants. One form of action is redistributing resources. We contribute to Real Rent Duwamish at an organizational level, and a number of our individual members also contribute.
Black & Tan Hall has also endorsed the Duwamish Tribe's latest effort to restore the federal acknowledgment briefly granted to them in 2001 at the end of the Clinton administration. The recognition was quickly reversed by the Bush administration and the tribe has been seeking its restoration ever since.
For a sense of what this area was like before the arrival of settlers, check out the Waterlines Project Map from the Burke Museum, which shows the locations of Duwamish village sites and reflects the waterlines before the harbor was modified by seawalls and before the Duwamish River was straightened and dredged for commercial shipping.Read More
Audio section read by Elena Perez
Black & Tan Hall is a cooperatively-owned venture in Hillman City which seeks to maintain Rainier Valley as a destination for cross-cultural arts and education events. We are comprised of over 30 partner-members who reside primarily in Southeast Seattle.
In late 2020, Black & Tan Hall purchased our building with funding from the City of Seattle's Equitable Development Initiative. Once renovations are complete, we look forward to opening our doors at 5608 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle WA 98118!
If you reference this resource, please cite as follows:
Black & Tan Hall. (2021). Seattle Green Book Self-Guided Tour. https://blackandtanhall.oncell.com
If you enjoy this tour, please consider making a one-time contribution to help us open our doors in 2023 at 5608 Rainier Ave S., Seattle!