They Must Move

“Crusade to be begun against Shantytown. Health Board says its sanitary condition is such that it must be cleaned out.”

Sound familiar? Here in Seattle, perhaps substitute “unsanctioned tent encampments” or “tent cities” or even “tiny house villages” for “Shantytown” and it would be all too familiar.

Yet the “They Must Move” headline is from the front page of the Seattle Daily Times on August 16, 1899. The Shantytown in this article was located along a similar stretch of Seattle waterfront as the Depression Era Shantytown known as Hooverville depicted in the photo montage above. The photo is meant to depict an irate Seattle housewife living on Beacon Hill. She is pointing at the shacks below her and insisting they be cleaned up and burned down (which they eventually were). I have as yet been unable to find the specific source/photo credit for this photo but am told it is from the Seattle Times from the 1930s.

Finger-pointing and scapegoating are juvenile, divisive, and destructive. By anyone in any era. And when they are done by supposedly professional media people it is especially disheartening. Instead of opening up constructive and civic discourse on difficult, wicked problems like homelessness, these actions are counterproductive. I could finger-point here in this blog post, but I will refrain.

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