The International Examiner just released the second edition of Seattle’s International District: The Making of a Pan-Asian American Community, by Doug Chin. The original edition was published nearly a decade ago. This second edition contains an update, and revisions to the original book and is being issued to coincide with the 100th year birthday of the District.
“It felt like the right time to published a second edition,” said Chin, “because what is now the International District or Chinatown, has reached the century mark. Moreover, all the copies of the first edition of the book have been sold years ago, while request for the book continued.
It was 100 years ago, in 1909, that the Seattle celebrated the completion of the Jackson Street Regrade phase that downsized of what was a very steep Jackson Street hill. The hill was substantially reduced to provide better access to the city center from south Seattle and, just as important, opened up new land for development. Early Asian immigrants, particularly the Chinese, quickly took advantage of the opportunity to construct new buildings or acquire property in the area. The newly regarded area was adjacent to a growing Japanese settlement centered on Main Street, and thus a new and expanded Asian American district had begun.
Seattle’s International District traces the journey of the early Asian immigrants to Seattle, describes their early settlements, and chronicles the evolution of the International District from its early times to the present. It covers the ebb and flow of the area, the challenges to preserve the area, the internal and external conflicts, and the vital events and forces that the sharp the District. It is a story about the movement of the Chinatowns, the District’s heydays in the 1920s, Filipino immigrants and union organizing, Japantown and the removal and internment of Japanese, and the decline and resurgence of this unique pan-Asian American district. The book illustrates the changing accommodations and relationships between the District’s Asians and city, and how the area has become an integral part of Seattle’s fabric — an important piece that substantially adds to the city’s color, diversity and excitement.
The second edition, said Chin, includes some new information about the history of Asian Americans in the area and provides an update of the changes in the District over the last decade. The real importance of the book, he said, is that it helps document the many contributions that Asian Americans have made to the development of Seattle, the region and Washington State. For instance, Chin discusses in the second edition, the tremendous participation of Asian laborers in the construction of the railroads in the state. The arrival of a transcontinental railroad was perhaps the most significant in the development of the state, Chin argues, and clearly the event that brought about statehood. Chinese laborers, some 15,000 or two/thirds of the labor force, were the key its construction.
Doug Chin, who has been retired for a number of years, is a Seattle native who spent many years involved with the International District and has written for the International Examiner. He and his brother Art, wrote Uphill: The Settlement and Diffusion of Chinese in Seattle, Washington published by Shorey Books in 1974. Chin also wrote the historical overview of Chinese in Seattle in Reflections of Seattle’s Chinese Americans, which was published by the Wing Luke Museum.
The second edition was prepared and published with the financial support of 4Culture, King County’s cultural resource agency. The newly released book can be found at the Examiner office, Wing Luke Museum, and Kinokuniya Bookstore.
Funding from 4Culture, King County’s cultural service agency. Special projects funds help support this project.
Download the 1st Chapter Here
Please join us for a book release event to celebrate the launch of the 2nd edition of “Seattle’s International District” on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009 at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, mezzanine, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Meet author Doug Chin, the unofficial historian of the Seattle C/ID, for a book signing, reading, and Q&A session!.