A portion of Ben Pease’s map of Japanese American businesses in Little Tokyo, 1940.

The Little Tokyo Historical Society will present a special Zoom event with cartographer Ben Pease on his project to map and uncover the lost history of Little Tokyo east of Alameda that existed where the Arts District is now located.

The online event is on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. If interested in attending, email littletokyohs@gmail.com so the Zoom meeting link can be emailed to you.

Ben Pease

This project is part of a UCLA George and Sakaye Aratani Community Advancement Research Endowment (CARE) grant for LTHS’ “Japanese Americans at 800 Traction” project to rewrite the official history at 800 Traction Ave. in the Arts District in order to present accurately the significant contributions of the senior Japanese American artists who lived there from 1984 to 2017.

The outdated official history at 800 Traction is represented by the application for the City of Los Angeles’ Historic-Cultural Monument designation #1154 of the Joannes Brothers Company Building in 2018.

Pease will also discuss his 1997 project to map 24 Japantowns in California that existed prior to World War II. These included urban centers of Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland, and Los Angeles; suburban enclaves like Berkeley, Pasadena, and Sawtelle; and farming/fishing towns such as Guadalupe and Terminal Island. Most of these Japantowns no longer exist due to the forced removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans during the war and subsequent urban renewal.

Sources used are Sanborn maps, business directories, and photos, with funding by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. The maps of these Japantowns are located on the website http://Japantownatlas.com.

Pease has been a freelance cartographer since 1996 with projects including park maps, guidebooks, and maps for authors. He is also a map publisher and has an online business at http://peasepress.com. He lives in San Francisco with his partner, author Shizue Seigel.

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