In 1910, with no financial backing from a bank, 170 early Chinese pioneers pooled their money to fund the construction of two twin buildings – the West and East Kong Yick Buildings – which would become the anchors of Seattle’s new Chinatown. Also known as the Freeman Hotel, this building served as the cultural hub and living quarters for hundreds of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants who came to the United States in the pre-World War II era. These were the pioneers who – in search of new opportunities – built the Pacific Northwest region by working in lumber mills, canneries, construction sites, farms, restaurants and hand laundries. In the building, retail businesses lined the storefront. Social organizations – known as family associations – proudly displayed their presence along balconies. Upper floors provided cramped lodging to newly arrived laborers. Family apartments tucked away into side streets, forming the homes of the next generation and a community to last. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience has restored the unheard stories of these immigrants by preserving a historic store, social meeting rooms and apartments. This building is one of the most significant Asian Pacific American historic sites in the United States.
– Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience