Former Japan Towm, N. Main Street. Photo by Gene Wright

Lodi's Main Street Now and Then

In 1902 Lodi was a thriving town of 1600 inhabitants. Located on the Southern Pacific Railroad fourteen miles north of Stockton. It was the second town in size and business in San Joaquin County. There were two wineries and a cannery, enabling the farmers to find a ready market for their fruits and Vegetables. There were five churches, public and high schools, bank, wells Fargo Express office and telegraph and telephone offices.

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The photos on this page are a collection of past and present.

North Main Street from Pine Street
Click to Enlarge These two blocks of Main Street represent a concentrated and intact collection of historic structures.

4-30 N. Main Street - Japan Town
4 - Hotel Mirajama / Tamara Restaurant / Joe Hinode Co - General Merchandise
6 - Mirojima Hotel
8 - Hirada Cigars
14 - TK Coffee Shop / Tong King Co Chinese Merchandise
14 1/2 - Oshika Restaurant
20 - Matsui Restaurant / Masuda Cigars
24 - Kanagawa Dentist / Kamutro Oga Cigars
26 - Kamutro Oga Barber
28 - Hiromoto Cigars
30 - Mary's Barber Shop / Mickey's Club Cafe / Takeuchi Barber
34 - GH Goro Restaurant
36 - Fred Hoffer Supply Appliances / Sayamoto Grocery
38 - H&M Plumbing
40 - Lodi Fish Market / Central California Catering

Japantown, Main Street between Oak and Elm streets. These two blocks represent the most concentrated and intact collection of historical structures identified by the statewide group Preserving Californiaís Japantowns.

This historic district was the business and residential hub for Japanese immigrants beginning in the 1890s. Japanese men came to Lodi to work as laborers in the farms. Women from Japan started arriving to become ďpicture bridesĒ in the arranged marriages. The Japanese population grew.

By 1910, Lodiís Japantown was thriving. Along Main Street, families lived in the second stories of the buildings with their businesses located on the ground floor. Families sometimes lived just in the back rooms of the businesses. Outdoor bathhouses and gardens were behind the buildings. The street offered a complete economic base for the families and familiar goods and foods for Japanese workers who came to work in the vineyards and harvest the grapes and other crops in the summer and fall each year.

Main Street, especially in the roaring 1920s, was the frequent scene of police raids trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to stop the gambling and drinking and prostitution houses. But this is a part of the history people donít speak about often.

By 1940 there were about 800 Japanese residents, and Lodiís Japantown included a Buddhist Church, four general stores, a fish market, a drug store, six restaurants, a pool hall, a tofu maker, laundry and five hotels.

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the May 1942 relocation of Japanese residents, Main Street became a ghost town with boarded up windows. Main Street was never the same vibrant community.

Lodi is one of 22 historic Japantowns identified in the state.

Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 4 N. Main - Former Hotel Mirajama / Tamara Restaurant / Joe Hinode Co - General Merchandise - 4 North Main Street was the site of the first business owned by Japanese pioneers to Lodi. The land was initially occupied by the Hinode Store, a wood frame structure built in 1890 by Sejiro Masui and Kenichi Tamura. Following its destruction by fire, the owners rebuilt with composition concrete bricks in 1896. This is the building that currently exists.

In 1911, the new structure became the Miyajima General Store and Mijajima Hotel, owned by Shokichi Wakai and Kenichi Tamura, respectively. The hotel included a boarding house, bar, and card room. In 1938, Kenichi moved to Japan, and his brother, Kosao, took over the hotel. Wakai continued to own the Miyajima General Store. These businesses existed until 1942, when local Japanese were evacuated to Rohwer, Arkansas.

Click to Enlarge 14 N. Main - TK Coffee Shop / Tong King Co Chinese Merchandise
Click to Enlarge 20 N. Main - Matsui Restaurant / Masuda Cigars
Click to Enlarge 24 N. Main - KI Wong TV Service / Former OGA Barber Shop / Kanagawa Dentist / Kamutro Oga Cigars
Click to Enlarge 30 N. Main - Mary's Barber Shop / Mickey's Club Cafe / Takeuchi Barber
Elm Street Intersects
112 N. Main - Lodi City Jail
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 114 N. Main St - Fire Station and City Hall - Left photo Lodiís first fire truck, a 1913 Seagrave truck that cost $5,950. Middle photo - Seagraves Pumper - 1945 - Right Photo - 1956
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge The cityís first City Hall was built in 1912 and cost $3,998. It was a two-story brick structure. This small building had offices for the city clerk, city engineer, the superintendent of public utilities, the fire department and a room for fire department equipment like the hook-and-ladder and hose wagons. Upstairs, there was a meeting room for the Board of Trustees and a room for the firemenís sleeping quarters.

The jail portion was added to the building in 1914. This completed the cityís first civic complex.

It was the cityís only fire station until 1925 when a second one was built. The city government moved out in 1928 when a new municipal building was erected at 221 W. Pine St. The fire department used the building as Station No. 1 until 1967.

Since the early 1980s, the building has been used for storage. At one time, the City Council considered tearing it down, but Lodi Historical Society members objected. Instead, the building was saved, but there has been no plan or money set aside for restoration.

Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 124 N. Main St - City Municipal Light & Water Works

Water Tower painted with a Lodi theme, 122 N. Main St. By Rick Cardinio Jr. Dedicated July 2006.

Locust Intersects
224 N. Main St - Diamond National

312 N. Main St - Western Roofing Co

Lockeford Intersects
Turner Road  Intersects
South Main from Pine Street
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 4 S. Main - Main Hotel / Former Milano Hotel
Click to Enlarge 8 S. Main - Former Milano Bar & Cafe
Click to Enlarge 10 S. Main - King Yin Cafe / Former Joe Yip Restaurant
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 8 S. Main - Lido Club Liquors
18 1/2 S. Main - Golden Era Hotel / Former Europa Hotel
Click to Enlarge 20 S. Main - Lodi Fellowship Group
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 22 S. Main - Star Hotel / Former Padre Rooms / Lido Hotel
Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge 24-26 S. Main - Former Tukuo Okazaki Groceries
Oak Street Intersects
100 S. Main - Cosmopoliton Hotel (1920)
Click to Enlarge 148 S. Main - Former Pearless Milling Co.
Walnut Street Intersects
Lodi Avenue
Click here for Lodi Avenue
Kettleman Lane
Click here for Kettleman lane

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