LA’s Little Tokyo among list of 11 endangered historical places in US

LA’s Little Tokyo among list of 11 endangered historical places in USLA’s Little Tokyo among list of 11 endangered historical places in US
via FASTILY (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has included Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo into the 2024 list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.
Key points:
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation unveiled the full list in a press release on May 1.
  • The Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo Community Council and others from the Sustainable Little Tokyo coalition spearheaded the effort to have Little Tokyo designated as one of America’s most endangered historic places, according to the Rafu Shimpo.
  • The distinction is an important one for Little Tokyo, as the district is now one of the only four remaining Japantowns across the United States.
The details:
  • With a history spanning over 140 years, Little Tokyo is a cultural home for the Japanese American community in Southern California.
  • Home to over 400 small businesses, including about 50 legacy businesses, the district has endured many past challenges, such as the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Today, Little Tokyo faces modern threats, such as urban renewal, gentrification, demolition and construction.
  • “We hope that by bringing attention to displacement and gentrification occurring in the neighborhood, Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo can get the support and policy protections needed so that the community can thrive long into the future,” Carol Quillen, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement.
  • “This designation helps to ensure that Little Tokyo’s history, cultural heritage and legacy are recognized and its future is guided,” Kristen Hayashi, a curator at the Japanese American National Museum, said.
  • Other sites included in the list are Cindy Walker House in Mexia, Texas; Eatonville in Florida; Estate Whim Museum in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Hudson-Athens Lighthouse in the Hudson River, New York; Minute Man National Historical Park, Walden, and nearby landmarks in Massachusetts; Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana; Sitka Tlingit Clan Houses in Sitka, Alaska; Tangier American Legation in Tangier, Morocco, and Wilderness Battlefield Area in Virginia.
Little Tokyo’s history:
  • Little Tokyo emerged in 1884 after Japanese immigrants started opening restaurants in the area. The population of Little Tokyo grew to more than 35,000 by the early 1940s, but diminished after many residents were incarcerated during WWII.
  • During the war, Little Tokyo reportedly became a ghost town, and the establishments were leased to Black Americans working in the U.S. wartime effort. Japanese business owners eventually returned to the district after World War II and began the revival of Little Tokyo’s economy through the 1970s and beyond.
  • Today, the district remains a vibrant cultural hub close to Dodger Stadium, the home team of MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani, attracting people seeking Japanese cuisine and cultural experiences.
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