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See the red, D-4 section? That’s the Central District. The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation explicitly noted this was “the Negro area of Seattle.” (📸: Home Owners' Loan Corporation, The Seattle Public Library)


The Central District — or, depending on whom you’re talking to, the Central Area — has seen so much change over the years. It’s hard to get a grasp on its origins, but reader Beth Anderson wanted to try.

“What was it before it was the CD — who were (the) early inhabitants? Who settled there? Why was that the spot African Americans got redlined into?”

You voted for us to answer Beth’s question, so let’s dive in. But first, let’s quickly rewind to give a basic answer to the first part of her query.

Before there was a Central District, or even a Seattle, all the land making up the Seattle area belonged to the Duwamish people. After white settlers arrived in the 1850s, the land was signed over to them (though the settlers never fulfilled the promises they made to the tribe).

Not long after that, the first black Seattleites arrived.

Who were those early black residents?

Manuel Lopes, who arrived around 1852, and William Grose, who arrived with his wife, Sarah, and two kids around 1860. Both men set up their own restaurants and barbershops.

William bought about 12 acres — about five blocks — of land from Henry Yesler, one of Seattle’s first settlers, and made a home near Madison Valley. He would later let other black folks build homes on his property as racist housing practices took hold and kept minority settlers from living in many other areas. More on that in a minute.

William’s land, which couldn’t be restricted because it was his private property, became a spot where Seattle’s growing African-American community could flourish, says University of Washington professor James Gregory, who directed the school’s Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.

By 1920, nearly 2,900 black people lived in Seattle. They’d settled across the city by then, but a majority lived in the Central District and among the well-established Chinese and Japanese communities in Chinatown-International District. Before the decade was over, blacks and other minority communities would flourish in these areas.

» Want to learn more about the Central District’s origins, including the other big minority communities that called the neighborhood home? Check out our full dive into the CD’s history here. Want to learn more about the neighborhood and what makes it awesome? Don’t miss our guide to the CD.

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Engaging new creations by celebrated choreographers from coast to coast. Experience the vibrant Whim W’Him dancers at “3x3” January 18, 19, 25, 26.


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‘I hope the viaduct’s concrete spirit burns in highway hell.’ It gave us great views and took us a bunch of places over the last 65 years. But the city geeks at The Urbanist saw so need to throw another loving eulogy at the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which closed for good on Friday and is coming down soon. “We won’t miss the roaring noise, the air pollution, the carbon footprint, the eyesore, and the physical obstacle this triple-decker monstrosity imposed on Seattle,” they tweeted. (The Urbanist)

Seattle’s hot new hashtag. It’s #Viadoom, and it’s not going out of style ‘til the downtown tunnel replaces the viaduct in February. Three highlights: Monday’s commute saw 164 percent more bikes on the Spokane Street Bridge than last year, Curbed Seattle’s got the skinny on exactly when and how the viaduct will be demolished, and the self-proclaimed “badass” Twitter account for Mt. Rainier told a joke about how it was hoping for “more fiery exploding chaos” after the viaduct closed. You can probably see where that one’s going. 🌋 (Twitter)

‘The nation deserves an explanation.’ Speaking of traffic… For 13 years, thousands of Seattleites laughed off their nasty commutes with KIRO radio hosts Ron Upshaw and Don O’Neill. Then last Thursday, KIRO announced that “The Ron and Don Show” was off the air forever. No one’s sure what happened, or why Ron and Don didn’t say goodbye. But the anger — and the thank-yous — are pouring in on their Facebook page. “Thank you so very much for getting me through all those commutes,” wrote one listener. “With you, I was able to laugh and come home happy, instead of using my car as a battering ram and getting arrested.” (Facebook, The Seattle Times)

Take that, sign stealers. Managing the highway signs scattered around our state may seem straightforward. But what do you do when people who think it’s so hilarious keep stealing signs with the numbers 69 (a sex position) and 420 (a cannabis thing)? Our state department of transportation has one answer: decimals. They’ve replaced milepost marker “69” with “68.9” in some spots. And that could make a real difference. Replacing a sign can cost us taxpayers as much as $1,000. (The Seattle Times)

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🙌  TODAY: Putting together a team? Learn how to build accountability right from the start at this Impact Hub Lunch & Learn. (Pioneer Square)

🎥  Thursday Jan. 24-Feb. 9: Bring your family to giggle at the 14th annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle (Capitol Hill)

🕹 Friday, Jan. 25: Build and program your own LEGO battle bot at Foundation’s game night with BEAM Experiences. (Pioneer Square)

🍸 Monday, Jan. 28: Calling all spirit and cocktail nerds! Craft Pisco libations with Jared at this Foundation workshop. (Ballard)


🍿  See the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival — through Friday (Capitol Hill)
💡  Learn what Seattle’s public art says about our city (South Lake Union)
💡  Drop by a talk about how virtual reality may influence art (Capitol Hill)
💪  Learn how to build accountability at work at this Evergrey partner event (Pioneer Square)

🍸  Book a babysitter so you can check out the aquarium after hours (Downtown)
💪  Learn how to make a terrarium over beers (Ballard)
💡  Hear what it’s like to be Jewish in the Trump era from a New York Times editor  (Mercer Island)
👋  Get campy at drag bingo (Georgetown) — neighborhood corrected. Thanks, mbracy!
🍻  Sip a pint of ale and see something magical (Ballard)

🎈  Take a long walk on the beach and meet neat sea critters (West Seattle)
🎟  Give a standing ovation at the Seattle International Dance Festival performances — through Jan. 26 (Capitol Hill)
👋  Honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy (Central District)
💡  Learn about the history of houseplants at this scientist’s talk (Capitol Hill)

🗣  Take to the streets for the 2019 Seattle Womxn’s March and learn next steps for organizing — through Jan. 21 (Capitol Hill)
🎟  Fall in love with Shakespeare at “All’s Well That Ends Well” — through Feb. 3 (Seattle Center)
🎟  Wear your best disguise to this detective murder mystery dinner — through Mar. 30 (Downtown)
🎈  Nerd out over model trains with the fam — through Sunday (Puyallup)

🎟  Spend a day at the opera with “Il Travatore” — through Jan. 26 (Queen Anne)
🎟  Make your home vision board at this remodeling expo (Downtown)
🎈  Take the family to see Mary Poppins on stage (Mercer Island)
🎈  Bring your little ones to “eek!” and geek out over reptiles (Puyallup)

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. Learn what our emojis mean hereIs an event sold out? Hit reply to let us know and we’ll update the listing in tomorrow’s newsletter.


Support us by becoming a member today and you’ll get some sweet swag. Sport new shades at your fave festival and tote your Evergrey bag around Seattle with pride, ’cause you’ll be supporting our community-centric storytelling. 😎


We’re taking your votes on which of your questions we should answer around Seattle housing, and it’s real close, folks.

On last check, “Why can’t the City of Seattle just take land that is available or land they already own and just build affordable housing?” was tied with “Is it wrong to live in a house? I support density, but was lucky enough to buy a house I love recently. Am I a hypocrite?”

You could be the deciding vote! So don’t forget to cast it, by noon today, here.

Have a good one.  — The Evergrey

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