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1885 Chinese Expulsion: Places & People
Item 15 of 15

The Tacoma Chinese Garden and Reconciliation Park is a joint project of the City of Tacoma and the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation. It was created to commemorate the tragic 1885 expulsion of Tacoma’s Chinese citizens led by the Mayor and civic leaders of that time, to express Tacoma’s commitment to end racism and hatred, and to promote healing, reconciliation and a peaceful, multicultural community. The Chinese Reconciliation Park is a critical component of the community-led reconciliation process.

  • The Sojourners' Room
  • Entry Sign and Map
  • The Path of Expulsion
  • The Fuzhou Ting
  • String of Pearls Bridge

The History of the Project

When Dr. and Mrs. David Murdoch moved to Tacoma in 1982, they sensed something was amiss. After learning about the Chinese expulsion, Dr. Murdoch said, “Then it clicked because…if a family member has been hurt, ostracized or embarrassed, that has an effect on the family for years.” In his submittal of the Citizen Suggestion Award Program application to the City of Tacoma on August 22, 1991, he proposed that “since the eviction [of the Chinese populace] was from the Old Town waterfront, it would be appropriate to set aside an area of reconciliation (small park with a Chinese motif) and a monument acknowledging the incident, noting Tacoma’s regret and desire to move ahead in unity and respect.”

Dr. Murdoch joined with City councilman Robert Evans, former State Representative Art Wang (D-Tacoma) and community activists in 1992 to initiate the reconciliation process. They formed a citizens committee which included Suzanne Barnett, Bob Evans, Lorraine Hildebrand, Yuen Hi Ho, Theresa Pan Hosley, Bob Mack, Dr. David Murdoch, Dr. George Tanbara, Jim Tsang, Art Wang, Sulja Warnick and Lihuang Wung, assisted by the City’s Planning and Development Services Department staff Bart Alford and Martin Blackman. They spent 14 months planning, making community contacts and creating a preliminary design about the historic event in a Park setting.

On November 30, 1993, the City Council unanimously approved Resolution No. 32415 to acknowledge that the 1885 expulsion was “a most reprehensible occurrence.” The City Council recognized the efforts of the citizens committee and endorsed the concept of building a Chinese Commemorative park and international pavilion at the former National Guard site on Commencement Bay. Appropriately, the property is near the site of the early Chinese Settlement called Little Canton. The City Council authorized the expenditure of $25,000 for preliminary site plans, preliminary cost estimate, and project programming for the project. The Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation was founded in Spring, 1994 to continue the reconciliation process.

A Walk Through the Park

The Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park has been designed as a place of healing and harmony. As you walk along the interpretive pathways, through the sculptured landscape of Chinese gardens, and enjoy the natural beauty of Commencement Bay, this park will provide you insight to reflect upon the past, ponder the present, dream of the future and celebrate our cultural diversity and common humanity.

Visitors enter from the far west end, so that the experience of the park unfolds as people move through the park from west to east, creating the illusion of a larger site. The story of the Sojourners’ journey to America, work and lifestyle, tragic expulsion, and opportunities for reconciliation are all explored within the context of the Chinese garden.

One important part of the park is a structure that in itself is a landmark, the “Fuzhou Ting.” This is a small pavilion, or open-walled building (ting in Chinese), that is a gift to the City for the park from the City of Fuzhou, Fujian province, China. The Fuzhou Ting is an act of friendship between Fuzhou and Tacoma in recognition of their Sister City relationship and grew from a meeting in Fuzhou between a delegation from Tacoma and the Deputy Mayor of Fuzhou. Chinese engineers constructed the Ting in Fuzhou and then disassembled it for shipment to Tacoma. With leadership and hard work provided by a team of three senior construction engineers and an interpreter sent from Fuzhou in summer 2010, the reconstruction of the Ting on site in the park is a particularly vivid representation of the park as a significant space of commemoration and reconciliation.

Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation. Accessed September 10th 2020.

Tacoma Method- a research and educational website created by Professor Andrew Gomez of the University of Puget Sound. Accessed September 15th, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Lihuang Wung. Used by permission.

Lihuang Wung. Used by permission.

Lihuang Wung. Used by permission.

Lihuang Wung. Used by permission.

Lihuang Wung. Used by permission.