In the aftermath of World War II, the Pacific Northwest had to come to grips with the understanding that it had changed, perhaps irreversibly, due to a variety of factors.
Demographically, the population of the Pacific Northwest had evolved from a mostly rural people to urban dwellers, since many people flocked to the rising cities during the war in order to capitalize on the new economy that had been created (Schwantes). This conversion not only changed the every day lives of these people, but also changed their mindsets as well: politically, environmentally and economically.From a political point of view, Pacific Northwestern residents began thinking, and voting, from an urban perspective, which led to their support of urban initiatives that gave cities additional clout and politicians additional power to gain the funds and resources that would ultimately be used to grow these cities to the metropolitan powerhouses they are in the present day, as evidenced by the way that the Northwest has become an urban, as well as rural area.Environmentally, the changes to the Pacific Northwest played a part in the future economic development of the region. The industrial revolution that began with the onset of World War II, as it did in Japan, led to extensive damage to the environment of the Northwest, as thousands of acres of pristine forests were cleared for housing, military bases and factories, the air became thick with smoke and pollution from these structures, and all of the natural resources became taxed due to the increases in population and the basic needs of that population.Also, although it would not be revealed for decades, the United States government had used the Pacific Northwest as a testing ground for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, killing wildlife, plants and trees by the millions, many of which were gone for good (Kittredge).
Because of the eradication of many of these natural resources, even if former rural dwellers wished to return to their old ways of life, not all would be able to because of the downsizing of the mining, timber and fishing resources of the region itself.These industries still existed, but were not as large as in earlier times. The Technological Boom of the Late 20th Century Luckily for the United States overall, and the Pacific Northwest specifically, the exodus of people such as Asians from the region in the wake of racial profiling during the days of World War II did not totally keep foreign investment and immigration away; rather, as time moved forward and the global economy evolved, more and more Asians began to return to the Northwest to establish businesses, start families, and contribute to the economy.Much of this economic development came in the form of technology; innovative, creative Asians established themselves in the technology industries, lending their expertise, and capital to the region, creating yet another industry and economic resource for the area (Menzel). History Repeats Itself In the case of the Pacific Northwest, it certainly can fairly be said that it is a matter of history repeating itself; just as the early people to the region found themselves changed by the early settlers (Hunn), later people found themselves transformed by political, social, and other events, which ultimately changed the Pacific Northwest forever.Additionally, the entrance of new people into the region from other countries and parts of American itself led to a more diverse population. Summary This paper has shown how the Pacific Northwest of the United States has evolved with the times and has been able to give rise to large cities and industry, while still being able to hand onto woods and natural wonders in some cases.
Perhaps just as importantly, in closing, the Pacific Northwest has used changing times, politics and economies to still be able to support its residents, contribute to the national economy, and offer new opportunities for future generations.Works CitedDietrich, William. Northwest Passage-The Great Columbia River. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Hunn, Eugene. Nch’l-Wana: The Big River Mid Columbia Indians and Their Land.
New York: Geographica Books, 1997. Kittredge, William.Owning It All: Essays.
Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1987. Levine, Alan J. The Pacific War: Japan Versus the Allies. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1995.
Menzel, Paul. “The State of the Great Northwest. ” The Hastings Center Report 22. 3 (1992): 3. Schwantes, Carlos Arnaldo. The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History.
Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. The Pacific Northwest: An Overall Appreciation. Ed. Otis W. Freeman and Howard H. Martin. 2nd ed.
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