Article

Japantown and the Fillmore District

Clement Lai

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History


Published online February 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780199329175 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.386

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Urban History
  • US History (Immigration and Ethnicity)

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Many Asian American neighborhoods faced displacement after World War II because of urban renewal or redevelopment under the 1949 Housing Act. In the name of blight removal and slum clearance this Act allowed local elites to procure federal money to seize land designated as blighted, clear it of its structures, and sell this land to private developers—in the process displacing thousands of residents, small businesses, and community institutions. San Francisco’s Fillmore District, a multiracial neighborhood that housed the city’s largest Japanese American and African American communities, experienced this postwar redevelopment. Like many Asian American neighborhoods that shared space with other communities of color, the Fillmore formed at the intersection of class inequality and racism, and it was this intersection of structural factors that led to substandard urban conditions. Rather than recognize the root causes of urban decline, San Francisco urban and regional elites argued that the Fillmore was among the city’s most blighted neighborhoods and advocated for the neighborhood’s destruction in the name of the public good. They also targeted the Fillmore because their postwar plans for remaking the city’s political economy envisioned the Fillmore as (1) a space to house white- collar workers in the postwar economy and (2) as an Asian-themed space for tourism that connected the city symbolically and economically to Japan, an important U.S. postwar ally. For over four decades these elite-directed plans for the Fillmore displaced more than 20,000 residents in two phases, severely damaging the community. The Fillmore’s redevelopment, then, provides a window into other cases of redevelopment and aids further investigations of the connection between Asian Americans and urban crisis. It also sheds light on the deeper history of displacement in the Asian American experience and contextualizes contemporary gentrification in Asian American neighborhoods.

Keywords: urban renewal; redevelopment; Japantown; San Francisco; Fillmore District; multiracial neighborhood; displacement; space; dispossession; gentrification; Asian American Movement

Article.  8668 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Urban History ; US History (Immigration and Ethnicity)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.