International Hotel (San Francisco)
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The 2nd incarnation of the International Hotel
|Town or city||San Francisco, California|
|Relocated||848 Kearny Street (1873)|
|NRHP reference #||77000333|
|Added to NRHP||June 15, 1977|
The International Hotel, often referred to locally as the I-Hotel was a low-income single-room-occupancy residential hotel in San Francisco, California's Manilatown. It was home to many Asian Americans, specifically a large Filipino American population. Around 1954, the I-Hotel also famously housed in its basement Enrico Banduccci's original "hungry i" nightclub. During the "Manhattanization" of San Francisco in the late 60s, real estate corporations proposed plans to demolish the hotel, which would necessitate displacing all of the I-Hotel's elderly tenants. In response, housing activists, students, community members, and tenants united to protest and resist eviction. All the tenants were evicted on August 4, 1977 and the hotel was demolished in 1981. After the site was purchased by the International Hotel Senior Housing Inc., it was rebuilt and opened in 2005. It now shares spaces with St. Mary's School and Manilatown.
The I-Hotel, originally established as a luxury location for travelers in 1854, relocated to Kearny Street in 1873 and was rebuilt in 1907 after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. During the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of seasonal Asian laborers came to reside at the I-Hotel. The communities and building around the I-Hotel grew into a 10-block Filipino American enclave along Kearny Street known as Manilatown, the Manilatown section of San Francisco. During the 1960s, residents were able to rent a room in the hotel for less than $50 a month.
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During the urban renewal and redevelopment movement of the mid-1960s, the International Hotel was targeted for demolition. This "urban renewal" that occurred in response to the end of World War II had destroyed the heart of the Fillmore District, San Francisco, and hundreds of homes and thousands of residents were displaced due to the city's plans to expand the downtown business sector.
In 1968, Milton Meyer & Co., a real-estate company, issued eviction notices to the I-Hotel tenants, with plans to demolish and replace the I-Hotel with a parking garage. This demolition would happen concurrently with the destruction of ten blocks of low-cost housing, restaurants, barber shops, markets, clubs and other Filipino community businesses.
In October 1973, the Thailand-based Four Seas Investment Corporation bought the I-Hotel with the similar intentions to replace it with more profitable building or structure.
Resistance and Eviction
For years after the first eviction notices were served in 1968, many individuals were involved in the long fight that took place on the streets, in courtrooms, and in the everyday lives of the I-Hotel Manilatown residents.
In 1969, tenants and activists successfully negotiated an extended lease from Milton Meyer & Co. To finance this lease, Asian American art workshops Kearny Street Workshop and Jackson Street Gallery, as well as other rent-paying cultural organizations and businesses such as Everybody's Bookstore, moved into the basement of the I-Hotel. However, in 1974, tenants received eviction notices from Four Seas Investment Corporation, forcing community organizers to revise their plans to resist eviction.
Community poet and historian Al Robles played a key role in organizing the broad coalition of protesters, as did International Hotel Tenant Association chairperson Emil deGuzman and tenants Wahat Tampao and Felix Ayson. Ed Lee volunteered for the cause by working through the terms of various anti-eviction agreements as an attorney for the Asian Legal Caucus. Asian American student activists from nearby University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University also joined the protests, volunteering to repair and repaint the I-Hotel so that it remained habitable for tenants even as the Four Seas Investment Corporation failed to maintain basic utilities.
Controversial Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones also became involved in the fight for the I-Hotel. After Jones was appointed as Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission, the Housing Authority voted to acquire the building using $1.3 million in federal funds and then to turn it over to tenants rights groups.
When a court rejected that plan and ordered evictions in January 1977, the Peoples Temple provided two thousand of the five thousand people that surrounded the building, barricaded the doors and chanted "No, no, no evictions!" Sheriff Richard Hongisto, a political ally of Jones, refused to execute the eviction order, which resulted in Hongisto being held in contempt of court and serving five days in his own jail.
In the early morning of August 4, 1977, 400 San Francisco riot police began to physically remove tenants from homes despite the 3,000 protesters attempting to surround and barricade the I-Hotel. Within six hours, all 55 remaining tenants had been evicted. In total, 197 tenants were evicted.
International Hotel Manilatown Center
In 1994, real estate company Pan-Magna sold the I-Hotel land to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. Subsequently, an $8.3 million grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development was awarded to facilitate development of low-income housing. The Chinatown Community Development Center was chosen to steward this grant.
In 2003, construction began on the new I-Hotel, and the building was completed on August 26, 2005. The new building contains 105 apartments of senior housing. A lottery was held to determine priority for occupancy, with the remaining living residents of the original I-Hotel given priority. Occupancy started in October 2005, and the new building also contains a ground-floor community center and a historical display commemorating the original I-Hotel. Additionally, a new mural on the site of the new building features Robles, Etta Moon, Bill Sorro, and other tenant activists, commemorating their struggle to preserve affordable housing in San Francisco.
Depictions in popular culture
- The hotel and its elderly Filipino tenants were in a scene in the 1982 indie film Chan Is Missing by Wayne Wang.
- The Fall of the I-Hotel (1983) is a documentary written and directed by Curtis Choy that chronicles the fight for the I-Hotel and its tenants' eviction. The documentary is narrated by Al Robles.
- The Manilatown Series (2005) is a series of documentaries and short films written and directed by Curtis Choy that traces the eventual rebuilding of the I-Hotel.
- I Hotel (2010), a book by Karen Tei Yamashita, uses the I-Hotel as a setting for many of the ten interconnected novellas that comprise the novel.
- "Save the I-Hotel," a short story in author Lysley Tenorio's collection Monstress (2012), features a manong's memories of the I-Hotel prior to eviction.
- "Remember the I-Hotel," a play based on Lysley Tenorio's "Save the I-Hotel," was presented by the American Conservatory Theater in November 2015.
- In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Barney Miller entitled "Eviction" , the plot was loosely based on the events that transpired in the hotel.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to International Hotel (San Francisco).|
- Estella., Habal, (2007). San Francisco's International Hotel mobilizing the Filipino American community in the anti-eviction movement. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781592134472. OCLC 748873265.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- Art, Maryland Institute College of. "Visions and Voices of the I-Hotel: Urban Struggles, Community Mythologies and Creativity | MICA". www.mica.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- Salomon, Larry R (1998). Roots of justice: stories of organizing in communities of color. Chardon Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-890759-02-5.
- "Manilatown: An SF neighborhood that disappeared". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- Manilatown Heritage Foundation, "We Must Say No." Letter to City of San Francisco, October 31, 2013. https://www.dropbox.com/s/i3autlqqpc0xypi/Manilatown_DeclineLetter.docx
- Bowe, Rebecca (October 31, 2013). "Angered by Senior Evictions, Filipino American Activists Decline Award". San Francisco Bay Guardian.
- Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 282–3.
- L.,, Ishizuka, Karen. Serve the people : making Asian America in the long sixties. ISBN 9781781688649. OCLC 944934343.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- The I-Hotel rises again, San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 2005
- Harrell, Ashley (2011-04-30). "The International Hotel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "I – Hotel Mural – Johanna Poethig". johannapoethig.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- Wang, Wayne (Dir.) (1982). Chan Is Missing (DVD). New York: Koch Lorber Films. Event occurs at 14:15.
- "Rare screening of 1983's 'The Fall of the I-Hotel'". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "The Manilatown Series". www.chonkmoonhunter.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Lysley Tenorio new story collection, 'Monstress,' looks at illusions held and lost - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Review: 'Monstress' a powerful look at Filipino-American life in S.F. – The Mercury News". Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- Estrella, Cicero A. (July 28, 2004). "'Manilatown' will rise again: 2 blocks of Kearny designated to honor Filipino immigrants". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
- Pangilinan, Erin (August 17, 2005). "The rebirth of I-Hotel". Philippine News Online. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
- Pangilinan, Erin (August 31, 2005). "Historic hotel rises from rubble". Philippine News Online. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
- Habal, Estella (2007). San Francisco's International Hotel: mobilizing the Filipino American community in the anti-eviction movement. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-59213-445-8.
- Shaw, Randy (1998). "Tenant Power in San Francisco". In Brook, James; Carlsson, Chris; Peters, Nancy J. (eds.). Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture. A City Lights anthology. City Lights Books. pp. 287–300. ISBN 9780872863354.
- https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/ihotel/ User photographs documenting 30+ years of I-Hotel and its residents
- Manilatown Heritage Foundation, currently on the site of I-Hotel
- The Fall of the I-Hotel, documentary (1983, 2005)
- International Hotel SFGTV San Francisco APA Heritage Month, SFGTV (May 2007)
- International Hotel at the Digital Archaeological Record