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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 Americans Adopt the Auto Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction H. Nelson Jackson: Immigrant, Migrant, Adventurer, Traveler Harry Bridges: Immigrant, Adventurer, Traveler Mary Johnson Sprow: Migrant, Commuter Fred and Maryann Knoche: Commuters, Errand Runners, Vacationers Juana Gallegos Valadez: Immigrant, Traveler

Harry Bridges: Immigrant, Adventurer, Traveler

Harry Bridges was the radical leader of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. He was also an adventurer and immigrant. Born in Australia, Bridges went to sea at age 17 in search of adventure. After three years as a merchant seaman, he entered the United States in 1920, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1945. In 1939 the government attempted to deport Bridges, accusing him of being a communist. For more on Harry Bridges and longshoremen, see the Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland section of this exhibition.

Harry Bridges aboard a sailing ship
Harry Bridges aboard a sailing ship
Harry Bridges and Nikki Sawada on their wedding day, December 27, 1958
Harry Bridges and Nikki Sawada on their wedding day, December 27, 1958

Crossing the Border

When Harry Bridges jumped ship in San Francisco in 1920, all he had to do was pay the eight-dollar head tax to enter the country. Other immigrants didn’t find it so easy. Asians coming at the same time and through the same port were usually detained for a few weeks at Angel Island and subjected to extensive background checks.

Crossing State Lines

In 1958 Harry Bridges and Noriko (Nikki) Sawada flew to Reno, Nevada, to get married. But Nevada had laws forbidding whites from marrying Asians, and Nikki, born in Glendale, California, was of Japanese ancestry. Despite Harry’s plea that Noriko “isn't really Japanese—she was born in America,” the judge refused to marry them. They sued the state of Nevada, and three days later they were wed.

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