First came Chinatown, uprooted from its original nearby location in the early 1900s by regrade efforts. Then Japanese workers established Nihonmachi, or Japantown, in the blocks on the other side of Jackson Street. Filipino immigrants landed here, too. For a time, African Americans, conscribed south of Yesler by redlining, filled Jackson Street with the urgent sounds of jazz—the only place in the country where all these communities lived in such proximity. Later, Little Saigon added its voice to the milieu.
Over the years, a host of civic decisions—the Kingdome, I-5—chipped away at the neighborhood’s culture, not to mention its physical boundaries. Until the city realized, finally: This is a place worth saving.
Today, a vibrant paifang, or traditional gate, lends gravitas to the neighborhood’s entrance. A double dose of city preservation and historic districts—plus Chinatown’s status on the National Register of Historic Places—ensure this remains a destination unlike any other in the city. And Chinatown–International District’s relatively recent status as a transit hub makes this place more accessible than ever before. So grab a banh mi, stock up at Uwajimaya, walk in Bruce Lee’s footsteps, and marvel at this incredible resource right in the middle of our town.
See our map to Chinatown–International District here.