Table of Contents
DoJ and US Army Facilities
Confinement and Ethnicity:
An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites
by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord
Chapter 8 (continued)
Manzanar Relocation Center
After initial construction, all additional buildings at Manzanar were
completed using paid evacuee labor. Major undertakings included
construction of 18 residential buildings for staff personnel;
construction of an auditorium (Figure 8.6); and the construction of
chicken and hog farms. Other new construction included a laundry in the
staff housing area, a sentry post and police post at the relocation
center entrance, a entry post at the military police compound, and a
residence for the chief medical officer and appointed nurses at the
hospital. In the warehouse area a root cellar, two latrines, and a
garage were constructed. Also built by evacuees were a garbage can
washing rack and incinerator near the hospital, a dehydration plant,
Judo and Kendo buildings, a lath house, three orphanage buildings, and
two outdoor theaters.
Figure 8.6. Auditorium under construction.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
The administration block was at the relocation center
entrance on the south side of 1st Street. It included nine buildings: an
L-shaped office building, a town hall, a post office, a mess hall, and
five staff apartment buildings. To the south of the administration block
there was additional staff housing consisting of 14 apartment buildings,
three dormitories, and a laundry.
West of the administration block was a garage block,
a fire break, and two warehouse blocks. Buildings in the garage block
included two automotive repair shops, a refrigerated warehouse, and
eight other warehouses. The warehouse blocks had 29 warehouses and two
latrines. A motor pool, including a service station, gasoline pump, the
motor pool office, and a small unnamed structure, was south of the
garage block. Four garages and a latrine were located southwest of the
Factories were located on the south side of the
relocation center between the warehouse blocks and the perimeter
security fence. The WRA intended the primary work at Manzanar to be
industrial rather than agricultural. However, complaints from labor
unions over unfair competition soon forced the WRA to limit industrial
production to items slated for internal use. The chief industrial
projects at Manzanar included a garment factory, a mattress factory, a
food processing unit, and a short-lived camouflage net factory. Other
smaller-scale industries included a furniture shop, an alterations shop,
a typewriter repair shop, a sign shop, and a domestic sewing machine
The garment factory, the first industrial project to
get underway at Manzanar, was started in May 1942 in the Block 2 ironing
room by ten women with a borrowed portable sewing machine. The factory
was later relocated to two warehouses, where 38 industrial machines
replaced borrowed domestic machines.
The camouflage net factory was run by the Southern California Glass
Company under contract with the U.S. Army. The camouflage net factory
included three buildings 300 feet by 24 feet by 18 feet tall for net
garnishing, a 24-foot-by-100 foot enclosed shed with an attached
60-foot-by-100-foot open shed for net cutting, and a 24
-foot-by-150-foot shed for storage. Two of the net garnishing buildings
had 12 foot by 20 foot additions. Net production began in June 1942
(Figure 8.7). The net factory was a major source of conflict within the
relocation center, because its employees received higher wages than all
other Manzanar workers and only U.S. citizens could work there.
Figure 8.7. Camouflage net factory at Manzanar.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
The easternmost building of the camouflage net
factory complex (the 24-foot-by-150-foot storage shed) was remodeled by
the WRA for use as a mattress factory. The factory was destroyed by a
fire in 1943. During its operation the factory employed a crew of 19,
and produced 4,020 mattresses. The dehydration plant was a
24-foot-by-100-foot building. West of the factories there was a
26-foot-by-100-foot root storage building.
The relocation center hospital was in the northwest
corner of the central area, west of evacuee residential blocks 29 and
34. It included an administration building, a doctors' quarters, a
nurses' quarters, seven wards, a mess hall, a laundry, a heating plant,
and a morgue, all connected by covered wooden walkways. An apartment
building for Caucasian hospital staff was built using evacuee labor in a
firebreak south of the hospital.
All Japanese American orphans in the restricted zone, even half-Japanese
babies living in Caucasian foster homes, were sent to Manzanar. An
orphanage, called Children's Village, was located near the hospital in
the firebreak east of Block 29. Since the barracks provided for the
evacuees were unsuitable for young children, three new one-story
buildings with running water, baths, and toilets were completed in June
1942 by the evacuees. One building contained an office, superintendent's
apartment, a recreation room, a kitchen, and a dining room. Another was
divided into three wards: a nursery, a small children's dormitory, and a
girl's dormitory. The third building was also partitioned to form three
sections: a dormitory for small boys, another for older boys, and a
storeroom. Over 100 children would eventually be housed at the
Children's Village (Figure 8.8).
Figure 8.8. Manzanar Children's Village.
(Dorothea Lange photograph, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley)
Each of the 36 evacuee residential blocks contained
fourteen 20-foot-by-100-foot barracks, a mess hall, a recreation hall,
two communal bathhouses, a laundry room, an ironing room, and a heating
oil storage tank. The only exception was at Block 33, which lacked a
recreation building. All of the buildings were constructed of wood
frame, board, and tarpaper. Foundations for the barracks, mess halls,
and community buildings were concrete footing blocks set at 10 foot
intervals (post and pier). Foundations of the bathhouses, laundry rooms,
and ironing rooms were concrete slabs.
Although the barracks buildings and block layout were standardized, the
evacuees personalized their surroundings by adding sidewalks, entries,
rock-lined pathways, gardens, and small ponds (Figure 8.9). Some
evacuees hand-dug basements under their barracks. Many of the
residential blocks also had large community pond and garden complexes.
Nearly every residential block also had its own volleyball court, a
majority had basketball courts, and some had playground equipment.
Figure 8.9. Barracks landscaping.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
The barracks and recreation buildings were also used
for churches, a general store, a sporting goods store, a canteen, gift
shops, a beauty parlor, a barber shop, a dressmaking shop, a shoe repair
shop, a watch repair shop, a flower shop, a mail order counter, a
laundry, and after April 1943 a photography studio. Block 1, at the
relocation center entrance, was used for community offices and
bachelors' apartments. The laundry and ironing buildings were
interconnected and used for the manufacture of shoyu and tofu. All of
Block 7 and the mess hall, ironing room, and one barracks of Block 2
were used for a high school. An auditorium was built by the evacuees in
the fire break north of the high school. Block 16, in the central
portion of the residential area, was used for elementary schools and a
community center. A fire station was in a specially built building on
the east side of Block 13.
Major developed recreation areas included a picnic area with walkways,
bridges, open-air fireplaces, and a nine-hole golf course at Bairs Creek
and several other community parks. Rose Park (later renamed Pleasure
Park and then Merritt Park in honor of the relocation center director)
was located in the firebreak between Blocks 33 and 23. It was begun in
the fall of 1942 with domestic rose buds grafted to native root stock.
Eventually, it included over 100 species of flowers, two small lakes, a
waterfall, a bridge, a Japanese tea house, a Dutch oven, and pine trees
(Figure 8.10). Cherry Park, south of the Children's Village, was begun
when a nursery wholesaler donated 1,000 cherry and wisteria trees. Holes
were dug at the park for swimming pools, but due to water shortages and
LADWP concerns over contamination to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, they were
instead seeded with grass. North Park was located between Block 32 and
the perimeter security fence. It included two rock fireplaces in a grove
of large cottonwoods that remained from an old ranch. Two parks were
located outside the perimeter security fence, 1/4 mile and 1 mile south
of the residential area. The "South Parks" opened in early 1943 under a
permit system, as restrictions were relaxed and the evacuees were
allowed to leave the central area.
Figure 8.10. Pleasure Park.
(Ansel Adams photograph, Library of Congress)
Sports facilities included football fields and
baseball diamonds in many of the firebreaks. A Judo building was
constructed in the firebreak between Blocks 10 and 16 and a raised
wooden platform for Kendo was built in the firebreak between Blocks 10
and 11. Outdoor theaters were located in the southwest corner of the
relocation center and in the firebreak between Blocks 20 and 21.