Being drivers within the twenty first century, trendy know-how has allowed us to have tons of data at our disposal. From journey instances with ETAs which can be correct all the way down to the minute to real-time visitors data, many people take these conveniences as a right. It wasn’t at all times this fashion, as these of us who used to print out Mapquest instructions recall. However contemplate that, simply over half a century in the past, paper maps and journey guides existed to maintain sure parts of the inhabitants protected whereas they have been out driving. The Negro Traveler’s Inexperienced E-book, generally referred to as The Negro Motorist Inexperienced E-book, was that information. For 30 years, it offered data to assist Black drivers navigate America’s roads safely.

Jalopnik has written about the Green Book in the past, and the 2018 movie Green Book knowledgeable a brand new technology of the existence of those guides. California alone had greater than 80 companies listed within the Inexperienced E-book through the years — eating places, inns, fuel stations and extra, all recognized for being pleasant to Black vacationers. I needed to dig deeper, to search out out if any of those companies have been nonetheless round at the moment.

Victor Hugo Green, creator of the Green Book, profiled in the New York Age in 1958.

Revealed from 1936 to 1966, The Negro Vacationers Inexperienced E-book was printed yearly and distributed to Black individuals throughout the nation. The information was the brainchild of Victor Hugo Inexperienced, a journey author and U.S. Postal Service mailman. The concept for the information got here to him within the Nineteen Thirties, when he started amassing data on New York Metropolis motels, fuel stations, and different companies that have been protected for Black vacationers to go to.

The Inexperienced E-book was largely unknown to white Individuals, nevertheless it was enormous throughout the Black neighborhood. A shocking sponsorship take care of Commonplace Oil resulted within the guide being bought in Esso fuel stations throughout the U.S.

A 1949 edition of the travel guide, archived in the New York Public Library.

A 1949 version of the journey information, archived within the New York Public Library.
Picture: New York Public Library

Right this moment, it might sound unusual that Black individuals would wish their very own journey information simply to maneuver round inside the USA. However consider the time when the Inexperienced E-book was revealed. This was Jim Crow America. Racial segregation legal guidelines dominated the nation, particularly in southern states. Merely stopping to purchase fuel or ask for instructions might get a Black individual killed.

As America started constructing trendy interstate highways after World Struggle II, it was necessary for Black vacationers to know the place they may safely go for meals, gasoline or lodging. The Inexperienced E-book listed companies in over 300 cities within the U.S. and Canada the place Black clients have been welcome.

Whereas a lot of the companies listed have been situated in main cities, the Inexperienced E-book additionally held data on the way to safely journey by way of smaller cities. In areas the place companies have been hostile to Black vacationers, the guide typically gave addresses for personal houses the place vacationers might keep the evening.

California typically had the most important variety of listings that may welcome Black vacationers. The variety of areas within the state would fluctuate a bit from yr to yr, however not by a lot — in a 1957 edition of the information, as an illustration, the Golden State boasts 81 areas that have been protected for Black highway trippers. That very same concern had 97 companies listed in New Jersey and 91 in Michigan. Even Texas had over 90 areas.

I questioned — have been any of these California companies nonetheless round at the moment? I hit the highway to search out out.

The street of a former location from the guide in Lake Elsinore, California

The road of a former location from the information in Lake Elsinore, California
Screenshot: Google Maps

Sadly, most of the Inexperienced E-book areas that have been native to me are lengthy gone. The addresses are nonetheless there, however most of the inns, eating places and fuel stations have develop into completely completely different institutions from what was as soon as listed within the information. For example, a location that was as soon as referred to as the Lake Elisnore Resort in Lake Elsinore, California is only a residential avenue now. Different areas have ceased to exist completely, proper all the way down to the handle. A motel in Riverside referred to as El Camino Motel is gone, and I couldn’t discover a hint of its existence. The explanation? It’s now a avenue that crisscrosses fields on March Air Pressure Base.

So I left the Inland Empire to strive my luck in Los Angeles.

The Lincoln Hotel as it looks today on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

The Lincoln Resort because it appears to be like at the moment on Skid Row in Los Angeles.
Screenshot: Google Maps

The Lincoln Resort is without doubt one of the many addresses listed in L.A. Whereas it as soon as housed Black vacationers, at the moment the Lincoln Resort is a mainstay on the town’s Skid Row, a enterprise that has helped hundreds of individuals through the years get again on their ft.

Image for article titled Tracing the History of the Green Book in Southern California

Picture: CBS Youtube

One of the vital well-known areas in Los Angeles, each for Black vacationers within the Jim Crow period and historical past buffs at the moment, is Clifton’s Cafeteria. When it closed in 2018 it was the oldest cafeteria within the metropolis and the most important public cafeteria on the planet. Sadly, gentrification received the higher of it, and at the moment the placement is a elaborate hipster bar referred to as Clifton’s Republic.

Lots of the addresses from the Inexperienced E-book that also exist at the moment are unremarkable residential areas. However in my travels round L.A., a couple of stood out.

The Aster Hotel as it appears today.

The Aster Resort because it seems at the moment.
Screenshot: Google Maps

The Aster Motel nonetheless sits alongside the 110 freeway, simply over a mile from the College of Southern California’s L.A. campus. You’d hardly even realize it’s there, sitting behind a couple of different buildings. Whereas the Aster was as soon as a haven for Black vacationers, it has a grim historical past. Only a yr after the motel opened, in 1947, the motel landed on the heart of a ugly homicide case that received nationwide consideration by way of sensational newspaper protection. This was the homicide of Elizabeth Brief, often known as the Black Dahlia homicide.

Brief’s bare physique was found in a vacant lot within the Leimert Park neighborhood on January fifteenth, 1947. She had allegedly been staying in Room 3 on the Aster Motel; the motel’s proprietor reported that, on the morning Brief’s physique was found, Room 3 was discovered coated in blood. On the time, the LAPD offered a unique principle, alleging that Brief was by no means a visitor on the Aster Motel; the 2017 guide Black Dahlia, Red Rose resurfaced the alleged connection between Brief and the motel.

The Dunbar Hotel around 1938.

One other Inexperienced E-book website has a wealthy and far lighter historical past. The Dunbar Resort was at the heart of Black culture in L.A. within the early twentieth century. Folks described it as a “West Coast combination of the Waldorf-Astoria and the Cotton Membership.” The Dunbar hosted the most important Black stars — Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Billie Vacation — and gave a house to the west coast NAACP conference. Though it was deemed a historic and cultural monument within the early Seventies, by the Eighties the resort had fallen into destroy. In 2011, the Dunbar and its adjoining buildings have been bought and redeveloped right into a mixed-use, built-in neighborhood referred to as Dunbar Village, with 83 housing items break up between 41 reasonably priced items and 41 senior items.

Together with the three listed above, simply 10 Los Angeles-area Inexperienced E-book websites are nonetheless standing at the moment, out of almost 30 that have been listed when the guide was in publication. It’s unhappy to see so few left, and to consider the tales that could possibly be instructed by the locations that aren’t round anymore.

America has gotten higher because the Inexperienced E-book ceased publication in 1966, within the sense that Black motorists don’t must depend on a guidebook to search out companies that gained’t flip them away. It’s unhappy to consider an period when the Inexperienced E-book needed to exist, however I discover it inspirational to look again on the companies and households listed in these pages. It’s a bittersweet feeling to know that, within the depths of Jim Crow discrimination, Black vacationers might discover a protected haven in locations the place most companies wouldn’t settle for them, because of a guide put collectively by individuals who needed Black Individuals to soundly expertise the enjoyment and freedom of the fashionable highway journey.


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