Chinese reconciliation park in Tacoma
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Tacoma's Chinese community faces painful past

Unlike their biggest neighbour Seattle, and many other cities on the West Coast, Tacoma, Washington does not have a strong Chinese community, nor a Chinatown. It's the consequence of a long, and very difficult history.

Chinese migrants arrived in Tacoma in the 19th Century to build the first transcontinental railroad. From their arrival, migrants faced discrimination in a land that was considered by many at the time to be "white only".

Anti-Chinese sentiment increased following the construction of the railroad. In 1882, the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting all immigration from China to the US.

On 3 November 1885, a large group of men rounded up the 200 remaining Chinese people left in Tacoma and marched them out of town. Chinese buildings, houses and communities were destroyed in the following days. What happened became known as the "Tacoma Method", and was used as an example of how to forcibly remove Chinese populations from cities.

The events that took place led to minimal levels of Chinese immigration to the city for the next 100 years. While Seattle has close to 20,000 Chinese residents, Tacoma has just over 700.

The city is now working hard to attract wealthy Chinese residents into the area, just as Seattle has done. They have also dedicated a small park to Chinese Reconciliation, to remember what happened thanks to the Tacoma Method, and to ensure it never happens again.

BBC Pop Up, the BBC's first mobile bureau, has been living, working and reporting in Tacoma, Washington during the month of February.

Benjamin Zand reports on what it's like to be Chinese in Tacoma.

  • 27 Feb 2015
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