Minority Populations in the International District

Doug Chin writes in Seattle's International District: The Making of a Pan-Asian American Community, "The population in the International District grew to 4,800 in 1950, compared to 3,733 in 1940. This 30 percent increase reflects the heavy migration to Seattle of workers who found jobs in wartime industries. Included in this migration were African Americans, some of whom settled in the District and opened businesses along Jackson Street, including a pharmacy, a large nightclub, several restaurants and taverns, tailor shops and cleaners. By the end of the decade, Blacks had become the largest racial minority in Seattle. Subsequently, the racial antagonism directed at Asians shifted more to African Americans."

The Roaring 20s

"As the Filipino presence in the area emerged, so did the presence of African Americans. At the same time, the Japanese and Chinese sectors continued their growth as well, creating a lively and robust district. In many ways, it was a multiracial area in its heyday, experiencing the good times of the 'Roaring 20s.'

"E. Russell 'Noodles' Smith and Burr 'Blackie' Williams, two African Americans, opened the Dumas Club, a social club for blacks, in 1917 at Tenth Avenue and Jackson Street. Three years later, Smith and Jimmy Woodland opened the Entertainers Club at Twelfth and Jackson Street, where they started the Alhambra nightclub in the basement in 1922; the Alhambra became the Black and Tan in 1932. 'Noodles' Smith was a gambler and businessman who came to Seattle during the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909. He also also opened the Golden West and Coast Hotel in the International District, where such celebrities as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Erskine Hawkins stayed. Other African American nightclubs, hotels and businesses opened in the District over the decades."