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 Filipino and 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.
The Fall and Rise
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 the final 3am eviction on August 4, 1977, over 3,000 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 the International Hotel Manilatown Center to continue the legacy of Manilatown.
Proceeds from the sales of the I Hotel will go towards the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.www.manilatown.org
Bayani Art X Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Art by Tata Ponsi
Photos by Chris Fujimoto