Friday, February 19th. On this date in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring Japanese-Americans living along the Pacific Coast to be relocated inland. This order affected some 77,000 citizens and 43,000 resident aliens. The internment lasted throughout the Second World War, and the camps closed by early 1946. The dislocation caused by the internment order singling out an ancestry group came to be widely regretted and led to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, formally apologizing for the action and offering financial restitution. Today in the U.S., there are an estimated 1.37 million residents of Japanese ancestry. Over 48 percent of that total is mixed with other ethnicities and races. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, February 20th. One of the first chain stores in the U.S. opened its doors this month in 1879 in Utica, New York. For generations of Americans, Woolworth’s was known simply as the “five and dime” in tribute to its low-cost merchandise. Inside were wooden floors and display tables stacked with items that sold for up to a dime. Equally famous was the store’s lunch counter. The distinctive red and gold signs were taken down in 1997. Woolworth’s was no longer able to compete with the growing number of discount stores, shopping malls, and food courts. Today, Americans have a choice of more than 50,000 general merchandise stores in which to shop. These retailers do $640 billion of business annually, and employ over 2.8 million sales clerks and other staff. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, February 21st. In the early days of the telephone, knowing who had one and what the number was quickly became a problem. The first telephone directory in the U.S. was published on this date in 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut. It wasn’t a big list — there were only 50 subscribers. A little later, a directory also came out in San Francisco, with about 170 names. Today, of America’s roughly 117 million housing units occupied by owners or renters, over 114 million, or about 98 percent, have cellular or landline telephone service. Eleven firms issue directories for the nation’s millions of listed personal and business phone numbers. Manufacturing telephones and associated equipment is a $7.4 billion a year domestic business. You can find more statistics on communities across the country by downloading the Census Bureau’s “dwellr” mobile application at <www.census.gov/mobile>.