African-American Heritage: SF's Cultural Diversity Loss
San Francisco's black population was 78,931 in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2010, it had declined to 50,768, a 35.7 percent decrease, comprising just 6.3 percent of The City's population of 805,235.
Although the Fillmore has been commemorated in many songs, poem, including Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, few people of today know of the rich history of the Fillmore and its musical legacy that vanished overnight due to redevelopment in the 1960s. Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center replaced a major portion of the Fillmore district after persuading many black home, business and church owners to sell their properties and graveyards with a promise of high profile jobs that never materialized at the hospital.
Japantown: The Other Side of Fillmore
Built and settled as part of the Western Addition neighborhood in the 19th and early 20th century, Japanese immigrants began moving into the area following the 1906 Earthquake. By World War II, the neighorbood was one of the largest enclaves of Japanese outside of Japan as it took on an appearane similar to the Ginza district in Toyko.
Japantown residents being relocated to Japanese American internment camps in 1942, during World War II.
In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese of birth or descent, including Japanese American citizens of the United States, to be relocated from the Pacific coast and interned.
By 1943 many large sections of the neighborhood remained vacant due to the forced internment. The void was quickly filled by thousands of African Americans who had left the South to find wartime industrial jobs in California as part of the Great Migration.
Following the war, some Japanese Americans returned, followed by new Japanese immigrants as well as investment from the Japanese Government and Japanese companies. However, many did not return to the neighborhood and instead settled in other parts of the city, or out to the suburbs altogether. This was further exacerbated by the city's efforts to rejuvenate the neighborhood initiated by Justin Herman in the Western Addition in the 1960s through the 1980s.