Being drivers within the twenty first century, trendy expertise has allowed us to have tons of data at our disposal. From journey instances with ETAs which are correct all the way down to the minute to real-time visitors info, many people take these conveniences with no consideration. It wasn’t all the time this fashion, as these of us who used to print out Mapquest instructions recall. However think about 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 Ebook, typically generally known as The Negro Motorist Inexperienced Ebook, 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 era of the existence of those guides. California alone had greater than 80 companies listed within the Inexperienced Ebook 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.
Printed from 1936 to 1966, The Negro Vacationers Inexperienced Ebook 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 Thirties, when he started gathering info on New York Metropolis motels, gasoline stations, and different companies that have been protected for Black vacationers to go to.
The Inexperienced Ebook was largely unknown to white People, but it surely was large inside the Black group. A stunning sponsorship cope with Normal Oil resulted within the ebook being offered in Esso gasoline stations throughout the U.S.
Right this moment, it may appear 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 Ebook was revealed. 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 Warfare II, it was necessary for Black vacationers to know the place they might safely go for meals, gasoline or lodging. The Inexperienced Ebook 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 situated in main cities, the Inexperienced Ebook additionally held info on learn how to safely journey via smaller cities. In areas the place companies have been hostile to Black vacationers, the ebook typically gave addresses for personal properties the place vacationers might keep the night time.
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 12 months to 12 months, however not by a lot — in a 1957 edition of the information, for example, the Golden State boasts 81 areas that have been protected for Black street trippers. That very same difficulty 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 right this moment? I hit the street to seek out out.
Sadly, lots of the Inexperienced Ebook 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 turn out to be fully totally different institutions from what was as soon as listed within the information. For example, a location that was as soon as known as the Lake Elisnore Lodge in Lake Elsinore, California is only a residential road now. Different areas have ceased to exist fully, proper all the way down to the handle. A motel in Riverside known 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 strive my luck in Los Angeles.
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 the town’s Skid Row, a enterprise that has helped hundreds of individuals over time get again on their ft.
One of the crucial 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 most important public cafeteria on the planet. Sadly, gentrification bought the higher of it, and right this moment the placement is a elaborate hipster bar known as Clifton’s Republic.
Most of the addresses from the Inexperienced Ebook that also exist right this moment are unremarkable residential areas. However in my travels round L.A., a couple of stood out.
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 understand 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 12 months after the motel opened, in 1947, the motel landed on the heart of a grotesque homicide case that bought nationwide consideration via sensational newspaper protection. This was the homicide of Elizabeth Quick, also referred to as 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 offered a distinct concept, alleging that Quick was by no means a visitor on the Aster Motel; the 2017 ebook Black Dahlia, Red Rose resurfaced the alleged connection between Quick and the motel.
One other Inexperienced Ebook 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 largest 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 Nineteen Eighties the resort had fallen into break. In 2011, the Dunbar and its adjoining buildings have been bought and redeveloped right into a mixed-use, built-in group known 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 Ebook websites are nonetheless standing right this moment, out of almost 30 that have been listed when the ebook was in publication. It’s unhappy to see so few left, and to consider the tales that might be instructed by the locations that aren’t round anymore.
America has gotten higher because the Inexperienced Ebook ceased publication in 1966, within the sense that Black motorists don’t have to depend on a guidebook to seek out companies that received’t flip them away. It’s unhappy to consider an period when the Inexperienced Ebook 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, due to a ebook put collectively by individuals who wished Black People to securely expertise the enjoyment and freedom of the trendy street journey.