Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Neighborhood Businesses

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

John Yasutake’s parents met at the Tule Lake Internment Camp and moved to Seattle’s Central Area in the early fifties. John grew up in the Central Area and raised his six children there. He worked as a civil rights administrator in city government, schools, and transit. 

John Yasutake

You stayed in your neighborhood, and everything you needed was in that neighborhood practically.  You had department stores, Willners, Fewsons, you had a shoe repair guy, Mr Limbo, you had a dry goods store, you had a gas station, you had a grocery store, you had a small hardware store, Welch's was small. There were a number of restaurants, barber shops, there was a record store, there was a drug store, there was a local convenience store, all local families, African American, Asian, Chinese, and Mrs Shane, I think they were Jewish. Mr Limbaugh I think he was Jewish. Basically, ostensibly, people who lived in the neighborhood, people who worked in the neighborhood. Almost everything that you could ever want in a community, in a neighborhood, in terms of being a consumer, it was there, you know, self-contained. There was even a movie theater on the corner of 25th and Jackson. 

Then there was Wayne Kubota. His dad was an automobile mechanic, had his own shop. Then the Konos, they had an auto repair place, a body shop. So there were several Japanese families, Jimmy Nosho, he lived farther south, but all this is within walking distance, just a few blocks. And then the Hamasakes, they lived on the other side of MLK, which was Empire Way then, and so you know like I said, there were a number of Japanese families, but the predominant number of families were African American, at that time, and so the majority of the kids that i went to school with were African American. There were a few Latinos, and a few people of Hispanic descent, but there were also other Asians, Filipinos that lived in this neighborhood, actually quite a few that I grew up with.