The International Hotel was a low-income residential hotel that became the most dramatic housing-rights battleground in San Francisco history. As a center for Asian American activism in the 1970s, the building housed nearly 150 Filipino and Chinese seniors, three community groups, an art workshop, a radical bookstore, and three Asian newspapers. The I-Hotel stood on the last remaining block of Manilatown, a once-thriving Filipino neighborhood that was gradually displaced by San Francisco’s expanding financial district.
From 1968 to 1977, landlords of the hotel tried to evict the residents and build a parking lot. Resisting eviction for almost a decade, the tenants organized a mass-based, multiracial alliance which included students, unions, and churches. During a final 3 a.m. eviction on August 4, 1977, over three thousand people unsuccessfully defended the I-Hotel from hundreds of club-wielding riot police. The building was demolished in 1979, and it remained a vacant hole for over two decades. Thanks to a concerted effort by local neighborhood groups, the I-Hotel was rebuilt in 2005, providing 104 units of low-income senior housing and a community center tocontinue the legacy of Manilatown.
images: Manilatown Heritage Foundation; hotel photo: Jerry Jew; demonstrators/spokesperson Wahat Tampao photo: Chris Fujimoto.
Printed at the worker-owned Stumptown Printers, Portland, OR.
This is #80 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.
Claude Moller is an artist and community organizer who cut his first stencil in 1985 to protest America’s bloating war spending. He makes street art for housing justice groups and fantasizes about anti-yuppie lynch mobs.