Sunday, June 21, 2009
Seaside is the most racially and culturally diverse community on the Monterey Peninsula, a direct result of its history with the Army. Before 1950 it was a sprawling, unincorporated area known as “North Monterey” with an array of chicken farms, one major housing subdivision, some shacks left over from the Depression and some quickly built, affordable housing put up for soldiers’ families and civilian support staff during World War I and World War II. After President Harry Truman ordered the Army integrated in 1948, military officials decided to transfer all the black troops to Fort Ord because they were worried about racial violence elsewhere. The surge of black troops and their families into Fort Ord more than doubled the population of Seaside in the early ‘50s, and it incorporated as a city in 1954. When the base closed 40 years later and the soldiers left, many Latinos and Asians moved into the housing built for troops, helping change the racial and cultural mix of the city yet again.