Hotel History: SROs in the Chinatown-International District - Atlas Obscura

Seattle, Washington

Hotel History: SROs in the Chinatown-International District

Walk the paths of Seattle's early Asian residents with professor and author Marie Wong.

Looking through the lens of single room occupancy (SRO) residential hotels, Dr. Wong will be discussing research highlights from her newest book, Building Tradition, Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels, which examines the 158-year settlement of Seattle's Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino communities. We will learn about the personal lives of hotel occupants, the architecture of these seemingly “common” buildings, and revolving public policies that have worked in tandem to create and redefine the “place” that is the district.

We will begin in the Donnie Chinn Room at Hirabayashi Place, where Dr. Wong will give a short presentation to provide a backdrop for the experience. From there, we will head out on a walking tour of the neighborhood, experiencing both the interiors and exteriors of key locations in the city's SRO history as we reveal the layers of Seattle history that are hiding in plain sight, if we only know where and how to look.


Marie Wong is an Associate Professor at Seattle University in the Institute of Public Service. Her interests are in Asian American Studies and Urban Studies, including urban planning, housing, urban and architectural history, land use development, and sustainability. In addition to her book on the residential hotels, she is the author of Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon.


There are two ticketing options for this event. For 50 dollars, attendees will receive a copy of Dr. Wong's book. We also have a limited number of tickets for 35 dollars, which will include the tour only.


  • There is street parking in the area, but it is highly competitive. Plan accordingly and consider taking public transportation.
  • With the exception of the presentation portion of the event, where we will be seated, this is a walking tour. We will cover several blocks, some of which have uneven surfaces.
  • The walking portion of the event will take place rain or shine. Please dress accordingly.


Email Tamara Bunnell at

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.