Best of Times

Its July 1940, in the heart of Japantown and it seems like everyone is involved in the celebration of the opening of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There are festive parades, concerts and speeches and a shared community pride and sense of marvel at the elegant new suspension bridge. So much would change so soon. Nearly all the people in this photo would journey out to the narrows on a windy day towitness the bizarre galloping of Tacoma’s bridge before it fell. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor the next year they would board a train at Union Station and be interned at a government relocation camp for most of the war. Strictly enforced immigration laws championed by Tacoma’s Congressman Albert Johnson had already hindered property ownership for most of the Japanese American families living downtown so almost none returned. But on this fine sunny July day, none of that mattered yet. I like the saddle shoes and high school hair styles. So unmistakably American.

Japantown parade


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