Back in those
days, Fillmore Street was a prominent, prestigious street. They
had big arches up and down the streets and the lights would go on
at night. It contained some well-established business firms. During
the war, all the property was neglected. There was no fixing up
all the deteriorated streets and residences. By the end of the war,
the Fillmore area had been degraded and everybody wondered how long
it would take before it could be restored.
the Philosophy of Urban Renewal
We had to do
some restoration. The deterioration was widespread in San Francisco,
but Japantown had suffered tremendously because the occupants had
been removed. There was no one there to restore or renovate the
property. The fact is that we all knew that it needed revitalization
but it was a difficult task to accomplish. The longer we let it
go, it would turn into a slum area. We didn't want to leave it for
another three or four years because then it would become an area
that would be impossible, in the final analysis, to restore. By
building a hotel there, cleaning up, and making these other properties
available, the entire area took on a new picture. And that's how
it got started.
I think that
throughout the country there was a shortfall in proper administration
in the Redevelopment Agency. I had in mind that Justin Herman seemed
to have the wherewithal and the knowledge of what was needed. So,
one day I convinced myself that I should call Herman. I said to
him, "There's only one solution for this matter. You quit your
job with the federal government and you work for the city. If you
solve this matter, your name will be of lasting moment in our city."
He took the job and, believe me, I'm glad.