Sketched Jan. 10, 2020

TACOMA — The Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park is just a few minutes on foot from the Old Town neighborhood of Tacoma. Located past railroad tracks and hidden behind an elevated roadway, it’s not easy to find. But once you get there, you know this is a place where you need to spend some time.

Landscaped pathways cross over a beautiful moon-shaped bridge and lead to a towering pavilion with sweeping views of Commencement Bay. As you stroll around, you’ll find interpretative signs that describe the journey thousands of Chinese immigrants took to the United States in the late 1800s. The informative displays are sobering to read. Life for Chinese workers who toiled at lumber mills along this waterfront took a horrible turn in 1885, when “an organized mob of armed men, led by the mayor of Tacoma” marched them to the train station and sent them off to Portland.

When I stumbled upon the park more than 10 years ago, these tragic events, which I was reading about for the first time, seemed far removed from modern-day America. But these days, with anti-immigration sentiment on the rise, the lessons you learn from strolling the waterfront trails of this peaceful garden seem more current than ever.

The Chinese Reconciliation Park is a joint project of the city of Tacoma and the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation. For more information visit www.tacomachinesepark.org.

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Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park, 1741 N. Schuster Parkway, Tacoma; tacomachinesepark.org; 253-330-8828