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September 2001


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A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Sep 2001 12:38:19 EDT
text/plain (57 lines)
The news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came to New York on Sunday
afternoon, December 7th.  The F. B. I. immediately sent out protective guards
to public works like the Kensico and Croton dams, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard,
where the battleships Iowa and Missouri were under construction.  Crowds in
Times Square were tense as they read news bulletins of the attack; The New
York Times reported that sailors there said "We can whip them in no time";
but the Daily News quoted David Coward, who had served in the Philippines and
China, who said "We have a tough job on our hands -- you can beat them into
the dust and they come out of the ashes.  They're fanatical fighters."

On Monday the recruiting office at the Post Office at Church and Vesey
Streets was swamped by men trying to enlist - women volunteers gave out
coffee.  At Chambers Street and Broadway, trial blasts of fire engine sirens
as air raid signals drew confused stares from pedestrians, even as headlines
claimed that enemy planes were reported not far offshore.

Almost six thousand people signed up to become air raid wardens - bringing
the city total to 125,006.  "All air raid wardens may, from now on, expect to
be called for daily training.  We must toughen up.  It has come and we are
ready" said Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.  He added "I want to assure all the
people who have been sneering and jeering at the necessary precautions of
civilian defense that we will protect them now."

Anti-aircraft guns were set up in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, at Fort Totten, in
Queens, and other locations.  The Port of New York Authority canceled
vacations and leaves, and put guards at its bridges and tunnels.

About 200 of the 2500 Japanese nationals in New York and its suburbs were
taken into custody, like Yasuo Matsui, an architect living in White Plains,
who was born in Japan but came to the United States in the early 1900's; he
had designed or co-designed major buildings like 40 Wall Street and the
Starrett-Lehigh building.

In Manhattan the F. B. I.  took in people like Dr. Sabro Emy from his office
at 1035 Park Avenue; he had graduated from New York University in 1922, and
had not even seen Japan since 1917.  "It's a very unfortunate situation" he
told the New York Sun.  Most were sent to Ellis Island.

Police had instructions to protect all Japanese and their property but one,
Teddy Hara, was beaten outside his rooming house on West 46th Street.   Air
travel was canceled for Japanese nationals; the family of Morito Morishima,
who lived at 33 East 70th Street, had made TWA reservations out of New York a
week before Pearl Harbor, but had not yet left New York.

It is not clear if any of the Japanese detained in New York City were
interned in the wartime camps established by the United States.  Dr. Emy was
ultimately released, resumed his practice and became director of
anesthesiology at Misericordia Hospital.  He was particularly active in Red
Cross work.

Submitted by,
Christopher Gray
Office for Metropolitan History
246 West 80th Street, #8, NYC  10024
212-799-0520  fax -0542
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