In The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco
(University of Chicago Press, 2019), Meredith Oda
shows how city leaders and local residents in San Francisco fashioned a postwar municipal identity through their promotion of what Oda calls transpacific urbanism. Though the Japanese American presence in prewar San Francisco had been minor, it boomed as Japan came into vogue during the early Cold War. The Japanese Cultural and Trade Center was the apotheosis of urban redevelopment to attract Japanese capital and sell Japanese culture. Oda traces the conflicts and collaborations between a diverse set of stakeholders, including municipal planning officials, local merchant-planners, Japanese American professionals, Japanese-Hawaiian bankers, and African American neighborhood organizers. San Francisco’s rise as a major business and cultural hub in the postwar Pacific World benefited the Japanese Americans who called the city home even as it reinscribed their status as perpetual foreigners in American life.
Ian Shin is assistant professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan.