Jun. 19, 2008 at 3:50pm

Progress on the Chinese Reconciliation Park

On Sunday, Rick and I took a little stroll along the waterfront at the southeast end of Ruston Way. We wanted to check out the progress on the Chinese Reconciliation Park, located next to Jack Hyde Park. We thought about climbing through the holes in the temporary fence, but Rick is an upstanding, law-abiding, green card carrying member of our community, so we didn't. However, I did take a few pictures through the fence to share with my blogofriends. Before we get to the pictures though, I'd like to present a little background. 

Historical Background
In 1885, the citizens of Tacoma thoroughly evicted almost all the Chinese residents of Tacoma. It went down like this. In October 1885, all Chinese immigrants were instructed to leave. Approximately 400 residents left on their own. On November 3, all of the remaining 200 or so residents of the Chinese settlement on the Tacoma waterfront were forced at gunpoint to a corral at the railway station. Some died, seventy-seven bought tickets on the next train, and the rest were allowed to board a freight train in the middle of the night and thus escaped to Portland. Once all of the residents of the settlement were removed, their homes and belongings were burned. This horrible event soon became known as "The Tacoma Method." If you are interested in learning more, you can get information from the Organization of Chinese Americans, the WA History Museum, Historylink.org, and the book by Jean Pfaelzer, "Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans".

Park Project Background
Fifteen years ago, the City of Tacoma approved the construction of the Chinese Reconciliation Park, as a token of apology. The location of the park is about a quarter of a mile from the original settlement camp. There is a sign posted with a lovely rendering of the future park and a tall chain link fence around most of the site.  Through the fence you can see that some landscaping has been done

including some paths and a bridge

As you can see, this park is very close to the large ships that are docked on the waterfront. That issue is worthy of its own blog. For a taste of that topic, you can read this plea to not allow more ships, posted on the NW Asian Weekly site last December.

As for the progress, or rather the lack thereof, on the construction of the park, the most up-to-date and informative article that I was able to find on-line was written in March of last year for the NW Asian Weekly by Lee Bedard, and posted by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. Another good article was written by Kris Sherman for The News Tribune in February 2007. According to these articles, the City of Tacoma had indicated that Phase One of the park was due to be completed by the Summer of 2007. As you can see from the pictures, the city is a little behind schedule. This delay can not be blamed on funding since Phase One was estimated to cost $2 million and, as of March 2007, nearly $4 million had already been raised for this project.

The City of Tacoma's project web-site has no details listed for this project.

Anybody have additional information to share?

(And can anyone tell me why my formatting disappears, and sometimes my links, when I save?)

comments [3]  |  posted under Chinese Reconciliation Park, Tacoma


by Brooks on 6/20/2008 @ 5:14pm
I ran into a disappearing links issue earlier this week. Do any of the disappearing links contain ampersands? If so, there is a known issue with those.

by fredo on 7/6/2008 @ 6:41pm
The occasion of driving the Chinese out of Tacoma in the 1880s was regrettable. History is full of such regrettable actions here and elsewhere. Are regrettable actions which are not similarly memorialized any less regrettable?

Is there a way society could encourage people to work together without memorializing that which is negative? My children have done some pretty mean things to each other but I don't find it especially useful to continually remind them of how naughty they once were.

The best way to build harmony between the races is to make sure that you don't make negative utterences about other races and to make sure that you extend a spirit of helpfulness and comradery to those who are unlike you. Reconciliation Park, unfortunately, only works for people who think old social injustices are cured by rubbing salt into the wound.

by escaping slave on 7/6/2008 @ 6:56pm
Fredo, good point. What makes one act worth remembering/memorializing versus another act? Who makes that decision?

When is Puyallup going to put a monument outside the horse stalls at the fairgrounds to honor the Japanese that were imprisoned there? I keep looking when I go, but there's never one there. No matter what, it's too little, too late.

I wonder if Randy Weaver would like a park dedicated to his wife (who was shot by ATF agents while holding their baby) to make him and his surviving family feel better?


Hello! I'm Heather and I'm a bit manic about Tacoma.

I'll probably be blogging about my experiences in Tacoma as they relate to the environment (natural and built), social (in)justice, community building, economic development, bio-diesel, public transit, biking, gardening, home improvement, food & wine, and my little family (me, my husband, one dog, one cat). This is my first attempt at writing a blog - so please bear with me.

Contact: heather.ups@gmail.com

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