Chinese Community Bulletin Board – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Chinese Community Bulletin Board

In the absence of a Chinese-language newspaper, for years the community posted daily updates on this simple bulletin board. 

Sometimes the most unassuming artifact can have a most prestigious past, and one you can’t immediately determine just by a glance. That is exactly the case when reflecting on Seattle’s historic Chinese Community Bulletin Board, which hides in plain sight to this day on the outer wall of the Louisa Hotel in the International District.

The Emerald City’s modern history cannot be separated from its relationship to myriad Asian countries across the Pacific Ocean. Along with its very significant history with the countries of Japan, Korea and Vietnam, Seattle has a long history with China. Some of the city’s oldest eateries—like South King Street’s 85-year-old Tai Tung—are of Chinese origin. But, despite this entwined past, the city for many decades did not have a Chinese-language newspaper. So, in the mid-20th century, people posted the important news and updates of the day on the Chinese Community Bulletin Board.

Secured against an average-looking brick wall, the wooden message board rests underneath a green and red flared overhang. With little bits of paper, staples, and pins still stuck into the paneling, similar to any city telephone pole. Looking at the simple bulletin board, you can picture what it was like reading the updates and checking the business listings, a bastion of help in an era where there perhaps wasn’t enough. 

The Louisa Hotel, itself, is also a historic location. Over 100 years ago, it was the site of a diverse jazz-loving community. And in recent renovations, giant, beautiful murals depicting flappers, jazz musicians, and other happy cavorters were discovered. The site is an important landmark in Seattle, especially in terms of its pastiche of cultures intermixing within the city. And while the Chinese Community Bulletin Board may not be used as frequently as it once was—what with the internet as well as the publication The Seattle Chinese Post—it continues to hangso that this chapter of Seattle’s history won’t be forgotten.

Know Before You Go

Keep your eyes open. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could easily miss it.