Seattle has a reputation as a city of Progressive values, but as Megan Asaka argues in Seattle From the Margins: Exclusion, Erasure, and the Making of a Pacific Coast City (U Washington Press, 2022), that image had to be built on bulldozed neighborhoods of migrant workers. Asaka argues it was these individuals, from Japan, Europe, and Indigenous to the Puget Sound, who worked in the extractive industries that built Seattle, and whose presence was threatening to elites who wished for Seattle to reflect their own genteel visions of America’s future. In the twenty first century, evidence of these workers lives and neighborhoods is hard to find in the city’s urban geography, and Asaka’s work excavates what has been a purposefully hidden history of Seattle’s complex founding.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
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