Efforts by local residents during the 1960s to recreate the 17th-century Spanish Presidio marked the final erasure of Santa Barbara’s Japantown. The 100 block of E. Canon Perdido, now the heart of El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Park, was once the cultural, commercial, social and religious center of Santa Barbara’s Japanese American community.
The 1910 census lists just over 200 Nikkei living in the communities of Santa Barbara and Montecito. Many immigrants found work serving residents and visitors to these affluent coastal communities; some lived on estates as domestics and gardeners, while others operated businesses that catered to a primarily non-Nikkei clientele. But a core Nihonmachi grew up around the intersection of E. Canon Perdido and Anacapa Streets and by the 1920s held boarding houses, bathhouses, a cleaners, restaurant, pool hall and grocery store. The offices of the Japanese Association, two Kenjinkai, and Congregational and Buddhist Churches joined them on E. Canon Perdido and served Santa Barbara’s Japanese-American population, which numbered about 500 on the eve of WWII.
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