Being drivers within the twenty first century, trendy know-how has allowed us to have tons of data at our disposal. From journey occasions with ETAs which are correct right down to the minute to real-time visitors info, many people take these conveniences with no consideration. It wasn’t all the time this manner, 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 secure whereas they have been out driving. The Negro Traveler’s Inexperienced E book, typically often called The Negro Motorist Inexperienced E book, was that information. For 30 years, it offered info 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 over time — eating places, resorts, gasoline stations and extra, all recognized for being pleasant to Black vacationers. I wished to dig deeper, to seek out out if any of those companies have been nonetheless round right this moment.

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

Printed from 1936 to 1966, The Negro Vacationers Inexperienced E book was printed yearly and distributed to Black folks 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 info on New York Metropolis motels, gasoline stations, and different companies that have been secure for Black vacationers to go to.

The Inexperienced E book was largely unknown to white Individuals, however it was big inside the Black group. A stunning sponsorship take care of Commonplace Oil resulted within the guide being offered in Esso gasoline 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

At the moment, it may appear unusual that Black folks would wish their very own journey information simply to maneuver round inside the US. However consider the time when the Inexperienced E book was printed. This was Jim Crow America. Racial segregation legal guidelines dominated the nation, particularly in southern states. Merely stopping to purchase gasoline or ask for instructions might get a Black individual killed.

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

Whereas many of the companies listed have been positioned in main cities, the Inexperienced E book additionally held info on tips on how to safely journey via smaller cities. In areas the place companies have been hostile to Black vacationers, the guide usually gave addresses for personal properties the place vacationers might keep the evening.

California usually had the biggest variety of listings that will 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 secure 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 puzzled — have been any of these California companies nonetheless round right this moment? I hit the highway to seek 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, lots of the Inexperienced E book areas that have been native to me are lengthy gone. The addresses are nonetheless there, however lots of the resorts, eating places and gasoline stations have change into totally totally 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 Lodge in Lake Elsinore, California is only a residential road now. Different areas have ceased to exist totally, proper right down to the deal with. 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 road that crisscrosses fields on March Air Power Base.

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

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

The Lincoln Lodge because it seems right this moment on Skid Row in Los Angeles.
Screenshot: Google Maps

The Lincoln Lodge is likely one of the many addresses listed in L.A. Whereas it as soon as housed Black vacationers, right this moment the Lincoln Lodge is a mainstay on town’s Skid Row, a enterprise that has helped 1000’s of individuals over time 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 well-known areas in Los Angeles, each for Black vacationers within the Jim Crow period and historical past buffs right this moment, is Clifton’s Cafeteria. When it closed in 2018 it was the oldest cafeteria within the metropolis and the biggest public cafeteria on this planet. Sadly, gentrification received the higher of it, and right this moment the situation is a flowery hipster bar referred to as Clifton’s Republic.

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

The Aster Hotel as it appears today.

The Aster Lodge because it seems right this 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 just a few 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 grotesque homicide case that received nationwide consideration via sensational newspaper protection. This was the homicide of Elizabeth Quick, also called the Black Dahlia homicide.

Quick’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 Quick’s physique was found, Room 3 was discovered lined in blood. On the time, the LAPD introduced a special concept, alleging that Quick was by no means a visitor on the Aster Motel; the 2017 guide Black Dahlia, Red Rose resurfaced the alleged connection between Quick and the motel.

The Dunbar Hotel around 1938.

One other Inexperienced E book web site has a wealthy and far lighter historical past. The Dunbar Lodge was at the heart of Black culture in L.A. within the early twentieth century. Individuals 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 Nineteen Seventies, by the Eighties the lodge had fallen into damage. In 2011, the Dunbar and its adjoining buildings have been bought and redeveloped right into a mixed-use, built-in group referred to as Dunbar Village, with 83 housing items cut 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 right this moment, out of practically 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 may very well be advised 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 have to depend on a guidebook to seek 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 secure haven in locations the place most companies wouldn’t settle for them, due to a guide put collectively by individuals who wished Black Individuals to soundly expertise the enjoyment and freedom of the trendy highway journey.



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