International Hotel development battle still shaping S.F. 40 years later

As Pete Yamamoto recalls the events of Aug. 4, 1977 — the infamous eviction night at Kearny Street’s old International Hotel — his eyes are closed.

For several minutes, he seems to be trying to concentrate as he recounts what occurred 40 years ago. But after a while, he pauses, bows his head and trembles silently.

Yamamoto is sitting in the International Hotel Manilatown Center on a recent Sunday afternoon. The center is on the bottom floor of the new International Hotel building, serving as a gallery space and community center commemorating the original hotel and the battle over its survival as the last vestige of San Francisco’s once prospering Manilatown. The new I-Hotel, providing subsidized senior housing on its upper 15 floors since it opened in 2005, sits on the same block of Kearny Street at the edge of Chinatown where the original was located.

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