book cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Confinement and Ethnicity:
Barbed wire divider
An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites

by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord

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Chapter 8 (continued)
Manzanar Relocation Center

auditorium construction
Figure 8.6. Auditorium under construction.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
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.

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 warehouse blocks.

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 repair shop.

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.

camouflage net factory, Manzanar
Figure 8.7. Camouflage net factory at Manzanar.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
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.

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.

Manzanar Children's Village
Figure 8.8. Manzanar Children's Village.
(Dorothea Lange photograph, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley)
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).

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.

barracks landscaping
Figure 8.9. Barracks landscaping.
(WRA photograph, National Archives)
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.

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.

Pleasure Park
Figure 8.10. Pleasure Park.
(Ansel Adams photograph, Library of Congress)
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.

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.

Continued Continue


Last Modified: Fri, Sep 1 2000 07:08:48 pm PDT

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