Before Pearl Harbor, L.A. was home to thriving Japanese communities. Here’s what they were like
What was life like on Dec. 6, 1941, and in the years before then for one group of people for whom Pearl Harbor would drastically alter their lives — the Japanese and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles?
it really makes you wonder what Southern CA would look like if internment didn't happen. Much of those redlined aerospace track homes in the southbay were probably built on japanese farmland that was taken without fair compensation.
The irony of present-day Southbay racists claiming the area as their spiritual own when they themselves annexed the land is too rich not to mention.
is so sad to stop and think about how amazing this country could actually be if all the non-white people here throughout history were respected.
Little Tokyo is littler than it used to be. Part of it was sacrificed after the war to build the LAPD headquarters, Parker Center, which was itself razed a couple years ago.
Beyond the footprint of Little Tokyo itself, pre-war Japanese and Japanese Americans lived and worked across much of L.A.
My good friend's dad was born in the Manzanar camp. Just a crazy thought that in America, his dad was born in an internment camp.
I recently restored a map (original webpage was broken) of all the Japanese-American owned farms on the Palos Verdes Peninsula before they had to sell their farms during WWII incarceration https://gist.github.com/maxogden/745e0c57914c4091bc7ddd6247aee3c2
I first learned about the Japanese fishing community on Terminal Island from The Terror season 2. Although obviously it’s a fictional show, it led me to do a deeper dive on the history of Japanese immigrants in LA. Highly recommend it.
The Japanese American museum in Little Tokyo also has good info on life before and during internment.
I read this! It’s a great read. So much interesting history there. Did not know about the thriving fishing community in San Pedro.
I remember that racist lady in Wilson Park telling Asians to go back where they came from. smacks head
When my Property Law professor moved into LA, he checked the title history of the house he was buying. As he suspected, he found a racial covenant that was added onto the deed in late 1942 that says, "This house shall never be sold to a person of full-blooded Japanese descent." The house originally belonged to a Japanese family beforehand, but after that family was forced into the camps, the new owner proceeded to add the racial covenant to prevent their return. Many housing titles throughout LA contain such evil (and luckily, no longer enforceable) racial covenants in their record. My professor did end his story on a slightly humorous note by saying, "Even if racial covenants are still enforceable, I can contest the language of the covenant and still keep my house because it says 'full-blooded Japanese' and I am only half-Japanese."
This is very interesting. I live near Sawtelle Blvd. When I moved here, in 1996, Sawtelle north of Olympic was clearly home to many Japanese-American gardeners. There was a general store where you could get gardening tools, Dickie's work clothes, and rice cookers. I loved it. Now, while it thankfully has retained its Japanese character, it's been bougied up incredibly.
I know a few people who are extremely bothered by what they call "uncontrolled immigration". This one guy (super-rich and has probably never met an uncontrolled immigrant) says his grandfather "couldn't wait to assimilate." Maybe, I never met his grandfather. But the golden-age when immigrants tried so hard to be Americans is, I suspect, imaginary, or we wouldn't have Chinatowns, Little Italys, Lower East Sides, and so on. The first generation clings to its clothes, food, language, and their kids are assimilated via the public school system. Their kids translate for their parents in government offices and are embarrassed by their parent's accents, clothing and facial hair. This is the American way.
My grandmother was born in bay city (Santa Monica) and great grandfather ran a laundry service on ocean park blvd until they were sent to Heart Mountain Wyoming internment camp. She even told me once she used to dig for clams by the pier! Clams in Santa Monica!!!!
Thanks for posting this. Also, I find it weird there isn’t more signage or plaques or anything like that signifying places of importance to the Japanese communities. That giant concrete building they tore down to build One Sante Fe was one of the major train station Japanese families went to before the camps . Would be nice if there was anything there informing people what used to be there
Visiting the White Point nature preserve is fascinating, the Japanese had fished the PV peninsula for a long time, they had a booming fish cannery there before the war, and the concrete foundation of it is still there. They also fished plentiful abalone before the growing Anglo population fished them to near extinction by the 1960’s.
My great grandparents from Mexico came here and owned farmland in the Venice/Culver City border area in the 1930’s. Its crazy to think how things used to be and what they are today 😢
Has anyone involved in creating internment camps been punished to the same level we punished Nazi’s?
This part of history makes me so angry. I remember learning about it as a kid and my mom and I stopped on a road trip to visit a museum on one of the internment sites. My family was never really big on the whole 'America is the greatest and has done nothing wrong' brand of patriotism that some have, but this was a real standout moment to me in elementary school, in framing how I view the history of this country. And honestly, if not for my mom getting me more books and talking to me about it and me being in a class with a particular teacher, I would not really know about this. I've met adult colleagues who have no idea or no understanding of what really happened, because it's glossed over in school and learning about that era.
Being American citizens didn't matter, only their race. What would Southern California be like if the government hadn't incarcerated and stolen from these Japanese communities? What damage and pain would these people have avoided? Smh.
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