In the late 1930s the Seattle community of Japanese suffered a substantial loss when large parts of Nihonmachi (the city's Japanese district) were confiscated and torn down to make way for the Yesler Housing Project, a planned development of low-cost housing.

Was there a definite reason why the city government selected this particular area of the Emerald City for their housing project, or was this simply a case of anti-Japanese prejudice?

  • 2
    And did the Japanese at least receive compensation for their lost property and housing? Oct 28, 2016 at 17:45
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    I know (in the US at least) no neighborhood wants a public housing project, which means the ones they end up in tend to be the neighborhoods with the least political pull.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 28, 2016 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


The main reason for the confiscation of Nihonmachi was that Japantown was close to major transportation centers—relatively close to the waterfront along Elliott Bay, and just a few blocks east of the railroad depot.

Another (minor) reason is that the buildings in Nihonmachi tended to be more dilapidated than those in the rest of Seattle.

Also, more importantly, until the repeal of the Alien Land Law in1966, most Japanese were not allowed to own property; so the city was not legally required to compensate the Japanese for their lost housing.

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