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Clifton’s Republic in Downtown Los Angeles was listed in the Green Book for more than a decade.

Mapped: LA’s last remaining Green Book locations

The safest places for black travelers to eat, sleep, shop, and play in segregated America

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Clifton’s Republic in Downtown Los Angeles was listed in the Green Book for more than a decade.

In Jim Crow-era America, the open road was not open to all. For African Americans, Route 66, the iconic cross-country highway, was dangerous. It was dotted by racist signs and Sundown towns, cities like suburban Glendale that warned blacks to “leave town by sundown.”

In 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green set out to create a guide that would help black travelers drive the “Road of Dreams” safely, and as he put it at the time, “without embarrassment.

What he published was the Negro Motorist Green Book. A guide to thousands of safe havens nationwide for people of color, from barbershops to ballrooms, the book was brought to the mainstream this year with the divisive film Green Book, winner of three Golden Globe awards and the best picture Oscar.

The guide was published for the final time in 1966, and of the 224 original Green Book sites in Los Angeles, only about 8 percent still stand, mostly due to neglect and gentrification.

Documenting those sites is essential to recasting U.S. history, says historian and artist Candacy Taylor. That’s why she has made it her work to catalogue every remaining one.

Taylor encourages Americans to map the sites, preserve them, and give surrounding communities ownership over their reconstruction. In a deeply diverse city such as Los Angeles, restoration of these sites, she says, could revitalize impoverished neighborhoods.

Below is a map guide to those sites, some still in operation, some abandoned, and others now nondescript storefronts.

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1. Hayes Motel

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960 E Jefferson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Built in 1947, the Hayes Motel was ultra modern at the time, boasting rooms complete with radios and showers. Now owned and operated by Lily Ho, 78, the site has fallen into disrepair. According to Taylor, it’s one of the Los Angeles Green Book sites that’s most in need of help.

Hayes Motel in disrepair.

2. Dunbar Hotel

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4225 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

South Central was once called the “Harlem of the West,” frequented by Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. Other musical greats once graced the streets of Central Avenue, but because of racist policies such as redlining, many Angelenos now associate the area with the ghetto.

Originally the Hotel Somerville, the Dunbar Hotel and jazz club was located at the heart of that jazz scene. Black built, owned, and operated, it was considered one of the finest black hotels in the nation, playing host to other greats such as Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and W.E.B. Du Bois, and the first national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Unsurprisingly, it was the most often listed LA site in all 30 years of the Green Book. About a decade after segregation ended, the hotel closed its doors.

It was declared a Historic-Cultural landmark in 1974. In the decades following, the hotel underwent a series of reconstructions, most resulting in its being used as low-income housing. In 2013, it was carefully restored and converted into low-income senior housing. For Taylor, this iteration of the Dunbar is beautiful and fully “appropriate for the Green Book legacy.”

The exterior of the Dunbar hotel in Los Angeles. The facade is red brick.
Dunbar Hotel.

3. Regal Hotel

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815 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Another hotel that was highly praised as being the finest and most luxurious “negro hotel in the nation,” the Regal Hotel stands, completely dilapidated, in what is now Skid Row. No longer host to the NAACP or fancy galas, the Regal Hotel is also in desperate need of care. For Taylor, the stark difference between the grandeur of sites like the Regal in the past and their squalor today says a lot about the history of housing discrimination in LA.

The dilapidated Regal Hotel.

4. Hotel Alexandria

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210 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Hotel Alexandria has a turbulent history. One of the oldest Green Book sites, it was built in 1906 as the exemplification of luxury. Over a few decades, it went from hosting the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to being shuttered during the Great Depression, to being reopened and re-styled in a faux-Victorian model, to hosting Cassius Clay and Aretha Franklin. From Coppertone beauty contests to Malcolm X rallies, Hotel Alexandria was a notable hub for international and community-based events.

But, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it fell into decline again, becoming a single room occupancy hotel and drug-trafficking focal point. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that arts and entertainment kicked off its revitalization. Thanks to films such as Dreamgirls, Water for Elephants, and Spider-Man 3, which shot in its famous Palm Court, the Hotel Alexandria is now a functioning low-income housing apartment building. This year, it’s even welcoming a new bar geared to creatives called The Wolves downstairs. And, like many Green Book sites, it’s rumored to be haunted.

A tan building with brown fire escapes. There is a sign on the building that reads: Alexandria.
Hotel Alexandria.

5. Allums Drug Store

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4375 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

The Green Book included a variety of businesses, including hairdressers and drug stores. Allums was opened in 1940 by William Henry Allum, and primarily released ads for medicines curing stomach ailments. The building still stands, but is shuttered.

The shell of Allums Drug Store.

6. Aster Motel

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2901 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90007

The Aster Motel is claimed to have put up Elizabeth Short—the Black Dahlia—before she was stalked on her way to the Biltmore Hotel. Opened in the 1940s, it is one of the more modest hotels listed in the Green Book. It still stands in relatively good condition, but it is closed.

The shuttered Aster Motel.

7. Biltmore Hotel

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506 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Many people know the Biltmore as the Beaux-Arts landmark that was once the largest hotel west of Chicago, as the famous hotel that hosted presidents and celebrities, and as the setting for Chinatown, Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 11, Spider-Man, and National Treasure. But the Biltmore also has a less-told history of welcoming those routinely kept out of the limelight.

In the 1940s and ’50s, its Grand Avenue Bar was part of the small string of establishments called “the Run” that served as a bustling hub for the LBGTQ community. And from 1962 to 1964, when it was listed in the Green Book, it hosted numerous black sorority events, as well as the Outstanding Student Awards for black scholars and the Women’s Lawyers Association. Significantly, it was in its halls that the chairman of the United Civil Rights Committee spoke out against Proposition 14, which would have re-legalized housing discrimination in California, saying, “the California Real Estate Association has admitted its concern is not with property rights—it is to destroy human rights.”

Biltmore Hotel.

8. Clifton’s Pacific Seas

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618 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Today, it’s a parking lot near the whiskey bar Seven Grand, but in the 1940s, it was a Polynesian-themed, pay-as-you-wish paradise. Its sister restaurant, Clifton’s Republic (originally Clifton’s Brookdale) was also listed in the Green Book for more than 10 years, and it still stands in its original location off Route 66 in Downtown. Clifton Republic’s new bar Pacific Seas, which opened last year, is an homage to this lost treasure.

Correction: An earlier version of this map incorrectly stated the opening date of Pacific Seas. It was 2016, not 2017.

Diners at the original Clifton's “Pacific Seas” Cafeteria, now a parking lot.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

9. Clifton’s Republic

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648 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Clifton’s Republic, originally called Clifton’s Brookdale, is an anomaly among Green Book sites across the country; few have been lucky enough to undergo an almost $9-million restoration. Brookdale and Pacific Seas were just two in a string of Clifton’s, all of which were pay-as-you-wish eateries, a policy implemented in response to the Great Depression. Both the cafeteria and the original Pacific Seas hosted black modeling shows and awards in journalism banquets that featured black journalists.

The exterior of Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles. The facade is brown and red and there is a sign that reads: living history, Clifton’s, established 1932, cabinet of curiosities.
Clifton’s Cafeteria.

10. Jack’s Basket Room

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3219 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

“It was always music and food that brought white people into more acceptance of bending some of the rules.” — Candacy Taylor

Green Book sites were often hubs in the African American music scene, providing venues and hotels for the many notable performers, including Marvin Gaye, Little Richard, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, to play and stay in. In the south and the south-east, these sites lined what was called the Chitlin’ Circuit. In Los Angeles, there was Central Avenue. Jack’s Basket Room, a jazz club that derived its name from the house speciality (fried chicken and shoestring fries served in a rattan basket), was at the heart of the Central Avenue scene. An after hours spot where impromptu jams were likely to break out, hot chicken was served until 2 a.m. and again at 6 a.m. for those who stayed through the night.

Besides its legendary food and music, Jack’s Basket Room boasted a radio broadcasting booth and held massive charity meals for underprivileged children. Listed in the Green Book from 1947 to 1955, the building is abandoned now. But, if you look closely, you can make out the faint lettering of its iconic motto painted on its facade: “Chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird.”

Jack’s Basket Room, abandoned.

11. Hotel Norbo

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530 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Hotel Norbo, built in 1912, was once an all-hours spot for musicians to play and patrons to drink. But, by the 1970s, it had become low-income housing, and by the 1980s, due to Reagan-era policies, had fallen into squalor. As Taylor notes, LA County was eventually sued over the hotel’s dangerous and unlivable conditions. Today, it’s still single occupancy housing in the heart of Skid Row.

Hotel Norbo.

12. Residence of Mrs. J.O. Banks

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1200 S New Hampshire Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Many of the sites that still stand today happen to be hotels, but the Green Book listed many other types of businesses, including beauty parlors, liquor stores, tailors, and tourist homes. One such tourist home, a private home that rented out a room or two to travelers, was the residence of Mrs. J.O. Banks, now demolished.

South New Hampshire Avenue.

13. Watkins Hotel

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2022 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018

[Green Book sites] are part of the story of African Americans in Los Angeles, and the story of Los Angeles itself writ large. — Ken Bernstein for the Los Angeles Times

Hotel Watkins was converted from a 1920s apartment building into a hotel and jazz club, called the Rubaiyat Room, by Bill Watkins in 1945. It was the first black hotel on the Westside, and it was the place that legendary entertainers flocked to as the Central Avenue scene petered out in the 1960s.

The former Watkins Hotel.

14. Hotel Californian

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1907 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

The original Hotel Californian is another Green Book site with a long and complicated, boom-and-bust history. Built in the 1920s, the hotel was the site of multiple fires and scandals, and it eventually became a symbol of Westlake/MacArthur Park’s decline before it was destroyed in 1995. Newly rebuilt in 2016, the Hotel Californian is now low-income housing. Its original neon sign, which was saved and stored for a decade in Griffith Park, was restored and re-installed on its roof, making it the oldest neon sign in Los Angeles.

Hotel Californian, now low-income housing.

15. Palm Vue Motel

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3922 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90062

Many of the fates of the Green Book sites are murky, and the Palm Vue Motel is no exception. It’s not widely known what happened to it—it may have been closed shortly after the 1992 LA Uprising—but what we do know is that it was opened in 1959 by the late attorney Sherman Smith and dentist Helen Guenveur, parents of the LA-based actor Roger Guenveur Smith. According to a spring issue of Jet magazine, the owners “spared no expense, even wall-to-wall carpeting and a swimming pool.”

Details of the hotel's demolition are murky, but it would have stood somewhere near the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center on Western.

Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

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1. Hayes Motel

960 E Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90011
Hayes Motel in disrepair.

Built in 1947, the Hayes Motel was ultra modern at the time, boasting rooms complete with radios and showers. Now owned and operated by Lily Ho, 78, the site has fallen into disrepair. According to Taylor, it’s one of the Los Angeles Green Book sites that’s most in need of help.

960 E Jefferson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90011

2. Dunbar Hotel

4225 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011
The exterior of the Dunbar hotel in Los Angeles. The facade is red brick.
Dunbar Hotel.

South Central was once called the “Harlem of the West,” frequented by Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. Other musical greats once graced the streets of Central Avenue, but because of racist policies such as redlining, many Angelenos now associate the area with the ghetto.

Originally the Hotel Somerville, the Dunbar Hotel and jazz club was located at the heart of that jazz scene. Black built, owned, and operated, it was considered one of the finest black hotels in the nation, playing host to other greats such as Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and W.E.B. Du Bois, and the first national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Unsurprisingly, it was the most often listed LA site in all 30 years of the Green Book. About a decade after segregation ended, the hotel closed its doors.

It was declared a Historic-Cultural landmark in 1974. In the decades following, the hotel underwent a series of reconstructions, most resulting in its being used as low-income housing. In 2013, it was carefully restored and converted into low-income senior housing. For Taylor, this iteration of the Dunbar is beautiful and fully “appropriate for the Green Book legacy.”

4225 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

3. Regal Hotel

815 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
The dilapidated Regal Hotel.

Another hotel that was highly praised as being the finest and most luxurious “negro hotel in the nation,” the Regal Hotel stands, completely dilapidated, in what is now Skid Row. No longer host to the NAACP or fancy galas, the Regal Hotel is also in desperate need of care. For Taylor, the stark difference between the grandeur of sites like the Regal in the past and their squalor today says a lot about the history of housing discrimination in LA.

815 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

4. Hotel Alexandria

210 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
A tan building with brown fire escapes. There is a sign on the building that reads: Alexandria.
Hotel Alexandria.

Hotel Alexandria has a turbulent history. One of the oldest Green Book sites, it was built in 1906 as the exemplification of luxury. Over a few decades, it went from hosting the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to being shuttered during the Great Depression, to being reopened and re-styled in a faux-Victorian model, to hosting Cassius Clay and Aretha Franklin. From Coppertone beauty contests to Malcolm X rallies, Hotel Alexandria was a notable hub for international and community-based events.

But, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it fell into decline again, becoming a single room occupancy hotel and drug-trafficking focal point. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that arts and entertainment kicked off its revitalization. Thanks to films such as Dreamgirls, Water for Elephants, and Spider-Man 3, which shot in its famous Palm Court, the Hotel Alexandria is now a functioning low-income housing apartment building. This year, it’s even welcoming a new bar geared to creatives called The Wolves downstairs. And, like many Green Book sites, it’s rumored to be haunted.

210 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

5. Allums Drug Store

4375 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011
The shell of Allums Drug Store.

The Green Book included a variety of businesses, including hairdressers and drug stores. Allums was opened in 1940 by William Henry Allum, and primarily released ads for medicines curing stomach ailments. The building still stands, but is shuttered.

4375 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

6. Aster Motel

2901 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90007
The shuttered Aster Motel.

The Aster Motel is claimed to have put up Elizabeth Short—the Black Dahlia—before she was stalked on her way to the Biltmore Hotel. Opened in the 1940s, it is one of the more modest hotels listed in the Green Book. It still stands in relatively good condition, but it is closed.

2901 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90007

7. Biltmore Hotel

506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Biltmore Hotel.

Many people know the Biltmore as the Beaux-Arts landmark that was once the largest hotel west of Chicago, as the famous hotel that hosted presidents and celebrities, and as the setting for Chinatown, Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 11, Spider-Man, and National Treasure. But the Biltmore also has a less-told history of welcoming those routinely kept out of the limelight.

In the 1940s and ’50s, its Grand Avenue Bar was part of the small string of establishments called “the Run” that served as a bustling hub for the LBGTQ community. And from 1962 to 1964, when it was listed in the Green Book, it hosted numerous black sorority events, as well as the Outstanding Student Awards for black scholars and the Women’s Lawyers Association. Significantly, it was in its halls that the chairman of the United Civil Rights Committee spoke out against Proposition 14, which would have re-legalized housing discrimination in California, saying, “the California Real Estate Association has admitted its concern is not with property rights—it is to destroy human rights.”

506 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071

8. Clifton’s Pacific Seas

618 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Diners at the original Clifton's “Pacific Seas” Cafeteria, now a parking lot.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Today, it’s a parking lot near the whiskey bar Seven Grand, but in the 1940s, it was a Polynesian-themed, pay-as-you-wish paradise. Its sister restaurant, Clifton’s Republic (originally Clifton’s Brookdale) was also listed in the Green Book for more than 10 years, and it still stands in its original location off Route 66 in Downtown. Clifton Republic’s new bar Pacific Seas, which opened last year, is an homage to this lost treasure.

Correction: An earlier version of this map incorrectly stated the opening date of Pacific Seas. It was 2016, not 2017.

618 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

9. Clifton’s Republic

648 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014
The exterior of Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles. The facade is brown and red and there is a sign that reads: living history, Clifton’s, established 1932, cabinet of curiosities.
Clifton’s Cafeteria.

Clifton’s Republic, originally called Clifton’s Brookdale, is an anomaly among Green Book sites across the country; few have been lucky enough to undergo an almost $9-million restoration. Brookdale and Pacific Seas were just two in a string of Clifton’s, all of which were pay-as-you-wish eateries, a policy implemented in response to the Great Depression. Both the cafeteria and the original Pacific Seas hosted black modeling shows and awards in journalism banquets that featured black journalists.

648 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014

10. Jack’s Basket Room

3219 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011
Jack’s Basket Room, abandoned.

“It was always music and food that brought white people into more acceptance of bending some of the rules.” — Candacy Taylor

Green Book sites were often hubs in the African American music scene, providing venues and hotels for the many notable performers, including Marvin Gaye, Little Richard, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, to play and stay in. In the south and the south-east, these sites lined what was called the Chitlin’ Circuit. In Los Angeles, there was Central Avenue. Jack’s Basket Room, a jazz club that derived its name from the house speciality (fried chicken and shoestring fries served in a rattan basket), was at the heart of the Central Avenue scene. An after hours spot where impromptu jams were likely to break out, hot chicken was served until 2 a.m. and again at 6 a.m. for those who stayed through the night.

Besides its legendary food and music, Jack’s Basket Room boasted a radio broadcasting booth and held massive charity meals for underprivileged children. Listed in the Green Book from 1947 to 1955, the building is abandoned now. But, if you look closely, you can make out the faint lettering of its iconic motto painted on its facade: “Chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird.”

3219 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

11. Hotel Norbo

530 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hotel Norbo.

The Hotel Norbo, built in 1912, was once an all-hours spot for musicians to play and patrons to drink. But, by the 1970s, it had become low-income housing, and by the 1980s, due to Reagan-era policies, had fallen into squalor. As Taylor notes, LA County was eventually sued over the hotel’s dangerous and unlivable conditions. Today, it’s still single occupancy housing in the heart of Skid Row.

530 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

12. Residence of Mrs. J.O. Banks

1200 S New Hampshire Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
South New Hampshire Avenue.

Many of the sites that still stand today happen to be hotels, but the Green Book listed many other types of businesses, including beauty parlors, liquor stores, tailors, and tourist homes. One such tourist home, a private home that rented out a room or two to travelers, was the residence of Mrs. J.O. Banks, now demolished.

1200 S New Hampshire Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006

13. Watkins Hotel

2022 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018
The former Watkins Hotel.

[Green Book sites] are part of the story of African Americans in Los Angeles, and the story of Los Angeles itself writ large. — Ken Bernstein for the Los Angeles Times

Hotel Watkins was converted from a 1920s apartment building into a hotel and jazz club, called the Rubaiyat Room, by Bill Watkins in 1945. It was the first black hotel on the Westside, and it was the place that legendary entertainers flocked to as the Central Avenue scene petered out in the 1960s.

2022 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018

14. Hotel Californian

1907 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Hotel Californian, now low-income housing.

The original Hotel Californian is another Green Book site with a long and complicated, boom-and-bust history. Built in the 1920s, the hotel was the site of multiple fires and scandals, and it eventually became a symbol of Westlake/MacArthur Park’s decline before it was destroyed in 1995. Newly rebuilt in 2016, the Hotel Californian is now low-income housing. Its original neon sign, which was saved and stored for a decade in Griffith Park, was restored and re-installed on its roof, making it the oldest neon sign in Los Angeles.

1907 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

15. Palm Vue Motel

3922 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062
Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

Many of the fates of the Green Book sites are murky, and the Palm Vue Motel is no exception. It’s not widely known what happened to it—it may have been closed shortly after the 1992 LA Uprising—but what we do know is that it was opened in 1959 by the late attorney Sherman Smith and dentist Helen Guenveur, parents of the LA-based actor Roger Guenveur Smith. According to a spring issue of Jet magazine, the owners “spared no expense, even wall-to-wall carpeting and a swimming pool.”

Details of the hotel's demolition are murky, but it would have stood somewhere near the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center on Western.

3922 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90062