Category Archives: Uncategorized


The new International Hotel building is a senior residential complex and a community center. Additionally, the site is listed on the U.S. National register of historic places (NRHP). The new building is bounded between Chinatown and the Financial District where a few blocks away from the city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid is and represents the last vestige of San Francisco’s historic Manilatown. International Hotel consists of 104 residential units for low income senior citizens. The majority of these residents are Chinese, but other Asian Americans also live at International Hotel. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is also located in the building. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is a community center that is run by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and it is the place was active heritage work takes place. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is an exhibition and community space that serves the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation sponsors events and programming that promotes Filipino heritage and social justice.

Appraisal-Significance of the Place

Values/Mission: According to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s official website “The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in the United States by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture”. In full support of the Filipino community and other community-based organizations, the Manilatown community upholds certain democratic and liberating values as follows:

  •  Bridging cultures and generations
  • Encouraging critical conversations within the community –
  • Building community across generations by fostering cultural roots grounded in history and guided by the love of community.
  •  Maintaining organizational integrity and respect.

Management Assessment: The Board of Directors of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation are the primary stewards of the International Hotel Manilatown Center. They are:

  • Tony Robles, Board President
  • Caroline Cabading, Vice President & Acting Executive Director
  • Theresa Imperial, Secretary
  • Desu Sorro, Treasurer
  • Chelsea Mariotti, Board Member
  • Carmencita Montecarlo Choy, Board Member
  • Carlos Zialcita, Board Member

They are responsible for ensuring the continued existence of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and the programing at the International Hotel Manilatown Center. Constraints: A fundamental constraint that the Manilatown Heritage Foundation faces is the lack of funding. The heritage foundation is currently a non-profit organization and heavily relies on donations to maintain open doors. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation is run primarily on a volunteer staff basis, which leads the foundation to have shorter visitation hours and tour guides available. Another paramount constraint The I-Hotel faces is the reality of the changing demographic. The I-Hotel faces the issue of reaching out to a population that has been physically dispersed over the years as well as broadening their social mission to include individuals who were not part of the initial population group. Opportunities: The Manilatown Center is located on the ground floor of the I-Hotel, serving the community in multiple ways. The space is defined as fluid and flexible place for gathering, remembering, and interacting. Along with displaying new upcoming artists the Manilatown Heritage Foundation also hosts talk stories, book signings, music events, private non-profit rentals, legal clinics, senior movies, performances, and much more. Moreover, there is also an extensive archives program, which digitally documents historic audio, video, photos, and news articles pertaining to Manilatown and the struggle for fair housing.


The original International Hotel building was built after the San Francisco Earth Quake. It became popular with Filipino laborers and quickly became the epicenter of historic Manilatown. For thousands of newly arrived migrants from the Philippines International Hotel played a major role in the socialization and upward mobility of many Filipino people.


The original International Hotel building was built after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1907.

However, in 1968, Milton Meyer purchased International Hotel and made plans to redevelop the property. That October, tenants were served an order to evacuate the property by January 1, 1979.

The following year a fire destroyed the third floor of International Hotel resulting in three deaths. It is still unclear how the fire started. The damage notwithstanding, in the summer and fall months of 1969 volunteers organized to rebuild the damaged floor. This raised the spirit of activism among many people who were linked to International Hotel. As such, the following spring of 1970 a community center and a book store were established in the first floor storefronts of International Hotel. Two years later, the tenets of International Hotel organized and founded the International Hotel Tenants Association, so they could better organize to fight evictions

Less than one year later the For Seas Investment Company purchased International Hotel from Milton Meyer and the company orders tenants to vacate the property the following year in 1974. For three years the International Hotel Tenants Association led a grassroots effort to stop the evictions. This effort gained a high profile that in 1976 then Mayor of San Francisco George Moscone proposes that eminent domain be used to keep International Hotel out of the private real estate market. This sparked a major grassroots effort to take the International Hotel public. The community mobilized its efforts to stop evictions. Local Bay Area universities such as UC-Berkeley and San Francisco State University organized student protests and demonstrates against eviction. However, the eviction order was sent, but the local Sheriff refused to serve the eviction. Furthermore, the San Francisco court rejects the appeal for eminent domain exhausting the last legal effort to stop evictions. Finally, on August 4, 1977 more than ten years after the first eviction order was served tenets of International Hotel were forcefully evicted from the property.


Local university students joined with International Hotel residents and local activists to prevent evictions.

Although tenants eventually lost the fight to keep their homes, ten years of struggle developed advocacy skills and training for many people. This struggle served as a launching point for many prominent Bay Area activists. In fact, San Francisco’s current Mayor Ed Lee participated in the fight to stop evictions. Yet the amazing grassroots effort to save the residents’ homes was not enough and the International Hotel was demolished shortly after the last person moved out. But this demolition lead to more activism and prompts then Mayor Dianne Feinstein to establish the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee in 1979. This lead to financial investments and zoning ordinances that blocked the Four Seas Investment Corporation from moving forward to development plans. For ten years the Four Seas Investment Corporation negotiated with the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee, but eventually the Four Seas had to withdraw citing financial infeasibility.

During the 1990’s the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee collaborated with St. Mary’s Chinese Schools and Catholic Schools and Chinatown Community Development Center to develop a new International Hotel building. In 1994 the United States Housing and Urban Development Department grants 8.3 million dollars to help the Chinatown Community Development Center and the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee to develop a new senior citizen residential complex. In the 1990s the Manilatown Heritage Foundation was established in an effort to track down former residents and construct a narrative of International Hotel. Furthermore, in 1998 the Four Seas Investment Corporations sells the property to the San Francisco Archdiocese which paved the way for construction of a new residential complex to be name International Hotel. So between the years of 1998 and 2005 the Chinatown Community Development Corporation develops a new International Hotel building. The new building consists of 104 units of senior housing and a community space for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. On August 26, 2005 the new International Hotel and International Hotel Manilatown Center opens to the public.

International Hotel, 848 Kearny St, San Francisco

The new International Hotel building opened in 2005.


History of Alcatraz Island

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Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, only 1.5 miles from the shore of San Francisco, California. It now contains structural remnants of a prison in disuse, early military fortifications, and the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States. While the island is thought to have been first inhabited by the Ohlone Native American tribe, the earliest recorded discovery of the island was by Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. Juan Manuel de Ayala christened the island “La Isla de los Alcatraces”, or the Island of the Pelicans, due to the island’s large population of seabirds.

Military Era

     In 1850, U.S. President Millard Fillmore claimed the island for military use, leading to the eventual construction of a fortress. In 1861, when the American Civil War started, the island was mounted with 85 cannons in casemates in order to protect the San Francisco Bay from potential attacks. Although the guns on Alcatraz were never fired for offensive reasons, Confederate sympathizers and privateers during the Civil War were imprisoned on the island during wartime.

Prison Era



     In October 1933, the Bureau of Prisons was given the responsibility of turning Alcatraz from a military prison to a high security federal prison, marking the beginning 5 of the era for which Alcatraz is most well known. In 1934, Alcatraz opened and became America’s first maximum-security, minimum-privilege federal penitentiary. Alcatraz gained worldwide notoriety due to its isolated location and reputation as home to America’s most notorious criminals, such as Robert Stroud and Al Capone. Several highly-publicized escape attempts were made by prisoners despite the prison’s supposedly inescapable fortifications; to this day, Alcatraz escape attempts continue to be the subject of great speculation. In 1963, after nearly thirty years of use, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered the prison to be closed, citing its high maintenance costs and quickly eroding structure as reasons to discontinue use.

Indians of All Tribes OccupationAlc_Tanabe_Photo_23-2

      In March of 1963, the prison officially closed, ending the island’s chapter as an infamous federal penitentiary. Six years after Alcatraz’s prison was closed, Richard Oakes led a group of approximately eighty Native American activists from various tribes, who named themselves the Indians of All Tribes, in occupying the island for nineteen months, starting on November 20, 1969. The Indians of All Tribes wanted to draw attention to the injustices directed at Native Americans throughout American history, specifically protesting government policies that acted to terminate Native American tribes. In order to draw attention to their cause, the Indians of All Tribes painted graffiti slogans on prison walls, prison doors, and the water tower—some of which were restored for visitors to view today, such as the water tower, pictured below. The federal government initially rejected the Indians of All Tribes’ occupation of Alcatraz, and attempted to force the group to vacate the premises by placing barricades around the island. These barricades proved ineffective, but authorities continued to insist upon the group’s departure from the island. Over the nineteen-month occupation, the Indians of All Tribes struggled to remain a cohesive organization, as members within the group struggled for power over one another.

     By 1971, President Nixon and his administration became fed up with the Indians of All Tribes’ movement, and began developing a more active removal plan to end the occupation. On June 10, 1971, federal marshals and FBI agents stormed the island and removed the Indians of All Tribes from Alcatraz, ending the occupation. While the U.S. government failed to meet the specific demands of the Indians of All Tribes during the island’s occupation, the official government policy of terminating American Indian tribes eventually changed, and now a policy of Indian self-determination is in place.

Berkeley Beats Poetry: Crowd Sourcing App – Interpretive Plan

This interpretive project is an iPhone/Android web-based application that allows visitors to collect text, audio, and pictures and post them to the shared forum. Conceptually it is a crowd-sourced model for collecting text, audio, and images generated by users at the physical locations. The content is user-moderated and will be accessible via application or web. An important aspect of this interpretive project is the multiple media incorporated into the app; ideally, being at a certain location would trigger the app to prompt the user to view previous users’ posts. Signage and push-notifications will prompt the user to contribute to the web-forum through picture or video capture, text posts, or audio recordings.

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An example of the potential layout of this app.

The themes of our project include living history, expression and performance, and free speech and anti-censorship movements; the concept of this app as a public forum for expression and digital performance (through video, photos, audio, and text) allows people to share their experiences in a less traditional manner across time. The ability of users to scroll through time on the app to view the content provided for their location allows them to occupy multiple times in history. The app also allows users to view historic photos, videos, audio clips, and text specific to the location, as well as add their own photos, etc., to the app’s “archive”. In addition to this, the app allows anyone with a smart phone or web access to view, contribute, and provide feedback on the content available. One of the primary audiences is teenagers and young adults, who nearly all own or have access to a smart phone or the web and generally enjoy using social media and crowd sourcing apps. However, due to the nature of the app’s attention to expression and performance, the content and contribution aspects are accessible and inviting to people of all ages. Stakeholders, including poets, writers, local artists, and aspiring artists will all find content of interest to them, in addition to having the ability to contribute their own thoughts and artistic material.

This interpretive project encourages users to document real-life performances, which engage all of their senses and synthesize these into user-friendly content. One of the main motivators of the project is cultivating multisensorial engagement with a place and its history. The digital nature of this archive-database makes it sustainable for long-term engagement between stakeholders and visitors. However, digital apps require consistent and long-term updating, de-bugging, and maintenance, which requires funding or volunteer dedication. The Estate of Allen Ginsberg is well prepared and able to maintain an app with these kinds of requirements.

Read about our Slam Poetry Showcase

Plaque and Mural Project

Davis House’s provision of student housing introduces unique challenges to its preservation. In a two-step approach, this project intends to take into account both the contribution of the inhabitants, as well as attempting to affix more permanent documentation in a way that will survive the constant turnover of student life. Step one of this project is a commemorative plaque mounted on the front of Davis house, in a space that is both visible and accessible. The plaque will give a brief history of the house detailing its construction and various histories. By affixing a plaque to the house, house members will have an accessible point of documented memory from which to draw, that will also be available to visitors and outsiders as well, opening the house to the public. The second part of this project would be the creation of a living mural, documenting the history of the house while leaving stylized blank spaces for residents to create and add their own content to the mural. This mural would encourage the house’s history to evolve as the house grows and continues to exist. The key to the success of this project lies in the blended approach of “official” and interpretive history practices that incorporate both elements of the institutional as well as the cultural values of the cooperative. We hope to retain the cultural values of the people to whom this heritage site belongs, while also encouraging longevity, creativity, and preservation.



Flickr Album

Interpretive Plans

      The following proposals will enhance the experience of Alcatraz’s visitors by expanding upon current tour options and introducing entirely new plans. These proposals make specific use of digital technology to provide Alcatraz’s visitors with modern, interactive methods by which to learn about and engage with Alcatraz as a cultural heritage site. The proposals will be focused on providing visitors with accessible information and educational opportunities to learn about Alcatraz’s discovery, wildlife and landscape, and rich history as a communal home.

Interpretive Project Plan #1: Wildlife of Alcatraz Smartphone App

by Rachel Tanabe


Alcatraz’s gardens and native wildlife represent an important aspect of the island’s heritage. However, Alcatraz’s current visitors have only limited opportunities to learn about the island’s gardens and wildlife through scheduled tours offered a few times per week . My interpretive plan, the Wildlife of Alcatraz Smartphone App, would allow all of Alcatraz’s visitors to learn more about the island’s plant and animal species. The app will include two specific features to appeal to visitors; a story-mapping feature as well as a virtual scavenger hunt

Story Mapping Alcatraz’s Gardens

     The story mapping feature would use GPS technology to provide visitors with location-specific information about the plant species in each area of the gardens, as well as the animal species that are native to Alcatraz. As visitors walk through the gardens, the app would provide location-based information about the various plant species found in specific areas of the garden. In addition to providing information about the island’s 13 gardens, the app would also feature audio commentary by the volunteers who work to maintain the island’s plant life. This audio commentary would provide users with firsthand accounts of Alcatraz’s rich history from some of the island’s most dedicated stewards who work to maintain the expansive gardens.

Scavenger Hunt Feature


   The app would also feature a scavenger hunt feature aimed at engaging the island’s youngest visitors. Alcatraz’s violent history as a maximum-security prison may not be suitable for young children. The app’s scavenger hunt would offer young children visiting the island another way of engaging with Alcatraz’s history. Children would use the app’s GPS based virtual map to identify different plant and animal species, which would then be rewarded with points that could be redeemable for a small prize such as a sticker or pencil from the Alcatraz gift shop.

Interpretive Project Plan #2: Enhancing the Experience for All Visitors with Multi-sensory Virtual Tour Booths

by Sophie Ballard

    In this project, we would incorporate visual, audio, and olfactory components to create a virtual, interactive, self-guided tour of Alcatraz. We would use technology and historical archaeological knowledge to bring these three senses together to recreate the experience of Alcatraz in a way that would be as lifelike as possible. The viewer would sit in a booth located on Alcatraz near the entrance. The booth would be painted black and closed with a door, so the viewer could isolate their senses to those presented to them by the simulation. As the viewer controlled where they walked, using remote controls attached to the booth, the booth would release different odors depending on the viewer’s location in the tour. The viewer would also wear noise-cancelling headphones so that they could best hear the accompanying sounds and voices coming from the virtual tour. The themes that the multi-sensory virtual tour booth focuses on are prisoner life, community and/or home, education, wildlife and landscape. There would be tours available from the different significant time periods from Alcatraz’s history.

By spreading awareness of the significance of the site, more tourism will ultimately be generated. As more people learn about Alcatraz and become fascinated with its history, they will want to tour it themselves and will encourage their friends and family to do the same. These virtual tour booths will give visitors the opportunity to see the island as it was in its various reincarnations. They will be able to stroll through the island when the Native Americans occupied it— follow the paths that they took to their campsite and observe the graffiti they decorated the walls with. Also, they could even speak to some of the characters in the tour to better understand what Alcatraz means to them. Our ultimate goal for the multi-sensory virtual tour booths is that they can be a tool to help draw interest from and educate the world about the island and its valuable roles throughout history.

Interpretive Project Plan #3: Seeing Alcatraz Through a Lens

By Daniel Hong

Tour Starts Here

Alcatraz currently offers audio tours where tourists use headphones to listen as they take a walking tour around the site. We think this experience could be improved upon if people could visually see things besides the empty prison cells and common areas that once used to be occupied by prisoners. In this plan, a set of virtual tour glasses would be added to the already implemented headphone tour that the Alcatraz hosts for the tourists coming to visit the site every day. The glasses and headphones will be synced together to show certain things that the participant is hearing at the same time to enhance their experience of the tour at Alcatraz.

Additionally, this interpretive plan is highly educational. With this project, guests would be able to see virtual prisoners doing what the tour would explain them doing. Certain locations of the tour would have portions where the visitor would stand still and a slideshow-style projection would come out through the virtual glasses’ lens to teach the participants. The lens will also project interviews of ex-prisoners who are alive today, so they can hear firsthand how it felt to be a prisoner living in these cells. They will also learn about the discovery of the site itself while on the tour.

Interpretive Project Plan #4: Interpretative Projection Installation

by Paulina Antaplyan

   This plan aims to make the walking tour more educational by incorporating an interactive projection as the visitors walk through the cells. While visitors go from cell to cell, a projector would display a hologram on the wall. They could see a projection of the daily life of a prisoner as he goes about his routine. This project would incorporate the themes of prisoner life and community and/or home. To further depict the daily life of a prisoner, the projector could transition from the prisoner having a breakdown to having someone come provide comfort. It is very important to show the emotional roller coaster the inmates went through. Also, having the visitor walking into the cells adds another level of emotion. Physically being in that space, while watching these videos, helps build a more holistic picture of prisoner life.

Another way to do this holographic projector would be to depict the significant time periods in Alcatraz’s history. One prison cell could have a hologram show when Alcatraz was a site used for armory; how it looked or what was going. The next cell could show when the site was a factory.  Then, in another cell, the hologram could show the prison. Instead of focusing on the individual prisoner, it could focus on the prison as a whole. Another cell could look back on when the Indians of All Tribes occupied the island and show the graffiti and areas of conflict.

Alcatraz Cell

Currently Alcatraz has walking tours that allows you to see into the cells and walk through the common areas, but nothing that gives significant insight into what prisoners’ lives were like within the cells. Visitors can enter in large groups and the projection that continuously loop allowing people to visit the cells regardless of time. This projection plan will humanize the site instead of pose it as a structural facility.


Appraisal: The Current Interpretive Plan & Multivocality

              The current Interpretive Plan exists to develop new interpretations of I-Hotel history and Filipino heritage and to develop interpretations at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. Visitors can reach to the I-hotel by driving a car, walking or taking transportation. The MUNI 8X bus stops right in front of the center and it is only a 15-minute walk from the Montgomery Street BART and MUNI station.

              When visitors walk inside the first floor of I-Hotel, where Manilatown Heritage Center is at, there is a new interactive single room occupancy exhibit, that demonstrates the actual Filipino housing, adopted from Chinese Historical Society of America’s Living in Chinatown project, and inspired by the Manongs of the I-Hotel who fit their entire lives into an 8×10 foot living space. All of furniture, books, clothes and even cigarettes came from initial I-Hotel and Philippines and are donated by an actual person who stayed in I-Hotel in the 1960’s. This mini-model of the I-Hotel tenant’s room presents nostalgia in people as well as demonstrates their confined life to visitors.

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Single room occupancy exhibit, the Actual Filipino Housing, inspired by the Manongs of the I-Hotel in 1960’s.


Fight Poster of I-Hotel

Besides the single room occupancy exhibit, pictures of I-hotel’s history, activist, and real brick of the initial I-Hotel come into sight. The center features an informational gallery on the fall of the I-Hotel, in addition to hosting community events that further promote its mission. On the Club Mandaly, people could enjoy learning Ballroom and Latin dance from Benito Santiago at the I-Hotel. Also, Carlos Zialcita, who is one of the influential members of the community explore the rich musical, literacy, fashion and cultural history of the San Francisco Bay Area by being a host on Jazz Meryenda Pop-up Jazz club. In addition, the current Board-president Tony Robles, a poet, writer and prominent activist lead rest of the events on Club Mandalay with reading his latest book, Cool Don’t Live Here No More to emphasize his generational memory of San Francisco where alienation, deportations, and technological invasions. 



Fliers of movie “The Fall of the I-Hotel” by Curtis Choy

They also show a movie about I-hotel called “Fall of the I-Hotel” by Curtis Choy for visitors in order to inform them about the incident from the past, especially 1977 Elder Filipino and Chinese tenants standing up to developers to fight eviction from their homes in San Francisco’s Manilatown neighborhood. In addition, the director describes the story of people who got evicted fights, their eviction and the effects it had on the city’s tenants’ rights movement as well as the tenant’s issues now being faced and how they can fight eviction in their neighborhood and get involved. These events help advance a group’s mission, in the spirit of the tenants of the I-Hotel and celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the International Hotel, a mass eviction etched in the psyche of San Francisco. 

The Fall of the I-hotel Trailer

Modern Context and Preservation


     Since 1972, the National Park Service has maintained the island and managed its tourist operations. A ticket to visit Alcatraz includes a ferry ride from San Francisco’s Pier 33 to the island and an audio tour of the cell hours. Audio tours are narrated by former correctional officers and offered in eleven different languages. Visitors can also attend scheduled presentations and tours to learn more about specific topics, such as the island’s gardens and infamous escape attempts. However, these narrowly focused presentations are only offered a few times per week. The island is open to visitors for both daytime and evening tours. Alcatraz has gained international recognition as a popular and fascinating tourist site, and according to the National Park Service, approximately one million tourists visit Alcatraz Island each year.

Gardens of Alcatraz

Alcatraz is currently in good condition because the National Park Service has invested time and effort to ensure the preservation of the island’s structures and wildlife. However, due to its location in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is subject to harsh sea winds and constant humidity, both of which contribute to gradual erosion of the island’s structures. The National Park Service will have to continue to monitor the condition of the island’s structures in order to ensure their protection from erosion so that the island can remain open for future tourism.

In the future, Alcatraz’s structures and wildlife could be affected by rising sea levels resulting from global warming. In order to protect the island from the risks associated with global warming, the National Park Service will have to work with the United States government to advocate for policies aimed at curtailing the negative effects of climate change.


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