\The Fall 1956 Edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. Image from New York Public Library.
Whether traveling to a National Park or just driving down to the shore, road trips are an integral part of American culture. However, during the age of Jim Crow, African American travelers faced insurmountable hardships when trying to plan their road trips. In order to publicize the discrimination he faced and to help his fellow African American travelers, Victor Hugo Green published. The Negro Travelers’ Green Book (also known as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book or just The Green Book). The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1964 in order to provide African Americans a list of establishments in which they were welcome.
As Green was from Harlem, the book was originally New York focused, but eventually included much of North America. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Heart of Atlanta Motel Supreme Court case made the book obsolete, the locations listed still possess incredible historical meaning.
Listed below are five New York City sites that were welcoming to African American travelers in an age when that was revolutionary.
1. Hotel Theresa
The Hotel Theresa occupies the block of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. (formerly 7th Avenue) between 125th and 124th streets and rises above most other buildings in the vicinity. Constructed by Gustavus Sidenberg and designed by George and Edward Blum, the Hotel Theresa opened in 1913 with 300 rooms and became known as the “Waldorf of Harlem.”
The Hotel Theresa became the epicenter of not only African-American life, but also anti-establishment life, in Harlem, which was stunning given that only African Americans were not allowed as guests during the hotel’s first twenty years in operation. In addition to your average traveler, the hotel played host to Malcolm X, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, and even Fidel Castro. The Hotel Theresa was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1969 film Topaz and was designated a New York City landmark in 1993.
The Hotel Theresa was listed in the Spring 1956 edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, whose list price was one dollar.