1915 studio portrait by Tacoma photographer U.S. Makimura. The subject is unnamed but his cool elegance and crisp silhouette are the very essence of style, from the bows on his shoes to the dome of his bowler hat. He is seated squarely in a day precisely a century ago, a young man enjoying a measure of prosperity in a city that was rushing into modernity. The Japanese American photographer who posed, lit and shot this portrait was one of many Pacific Northwest image makers in the Japantowns of Tacoma, Seattle and elsewhere. Many of the most visually stunning photographs made during the first quarter of the 20th Century in our region came from these cameramen. It was like they were looking at an entirely different world. Perhaps they were.


A few more studio portraits from about 1905 to 1915 in Tacoma. Such craftsmanship and precision in the images and compositions and such a sense of important documentation in the expressions of the people.
Most of these come from the Yamane Family Collection at the Washington State Historical Society.

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.


  1. I found some glass plate negatives here in Australia with U.S. Makimura name on the sleeve but with a Tokyo business address. They look from the same period.


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