Manzanar War Relocation Center




Manzanar War Relocation Center

Site Information

Country: United States of America
State: Lone Pine, Inyo County
Location: 36° 43' 37" N - 118° 9' 30" W
Field Documentation Date(s): September 26th, 2011
Project Release Date(s): To be determined
Time Range: 0 BCE - 0 BCE
Era: WWII
Culture: Japanese-American, American
Site Authority: US National Park Service
Heritage Listing: US National Register of Historic Places
US National Historic Landmark
US National Historic Site
California Historic Landmark
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument
world map with location

Drawing of the elevations of the Manzanar Auditorium created using Laser Scan Data.

Site Description

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Manzanar is located in the Owens Valley of Inyo County, California, about half-way between Los Angeles, California (225 miles south) and Reno, Nevada (240 miles north) on US Highway 395. It is on the western margin of the Great Basin, in a land of topographic extremes. The Sierra Nevada towers more than 10,000 above Manzanar. Mount Whitney, located just southwest of Manzanar, is the tallest peak in the continental United States at 14,497 feet above sea level. In contrast, Badwater Basin, 280 feet below sea level lies approximately 100 miles southeast in Death Valley National Park, and is the lowest point in the continental United States.

Manzanar is nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada. It has a mean annual precipitation of only 5.5 inches, 20% of which falls as snow. Despite the low annual rainfall, Sierra streams flow nearby: Shepherd Creek to the north and George Creek to the south. Bairs Creek flows intermittently through the southwest corner of Manzanar. Other than the historic fruit trees, the vegetation is largely cottonwood, locust, and desert scrub.

Since the City of Los Angeles owns most of the Owens Valley, the area retains much of the rural character it had in the 1940s, when Manzanar was the largest “city” between Los Angeles and Reno.
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Historic photograph of the cemetery monument with an inscription that reads,

History

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Located in the Owens Valley between the towns and Lone Pine and Independence, California, Manzanar is a small place that is large in history and memory.

It was - and is - home to the Paiute and Shoshone peoples who have lived in this valley for centuries. Their ancestors used willow to build shelters and create baskets for carrying, storage and cooking. Using bows fashioned of cedar, they hunted deer and bighorn sheep in the mountains while their seasonal gathering yielded plants, pinyon nuts, and insects. Along the valley’s creeks, they created flood-irrigation systems to enhance the growth of native plants.

Cattlemen, farmers, and fruit-growers settled here after 1861. Their patterns of land ownership and agriculture - fenced fields, pastures, orchards, and farm homes - encroached upon the Paiute and Shoshone way of life and altered the valley landscape.

In the early 1900s, farmers settled here in a town they named Manzanar (Spanish for apple orchard) and planted thousands of apple and other fruit trees. Around the same time, Los Angeles was building an aqueduct just east of Manzanar to take water more than 200 miles south. By the mid-1920s, Los Angeles bought out Manzanar’s farmers. Although the City maintained the orchards for a few years, by the mid-1930s, Manzanar was abandoned.

No one could foresee how quickly and dramatically the site would change as a result of events thousands of miles away. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 intensified long-standing anti-Japanese prejudice on the west coast. In the days and weeks after the attack, the US government arrested individuals it suspected of being potentially complicit with Japan. Japanese Americans not arrested were subject to curfews and travel restrictions and had to surrender radios, guns, and knives.

In Washington, DC, some government officials disagreed about the scale and nature of the presumed "Japanese problem" on the West Coast. The FBI Director found no "factual data" which justified mass relocation. The Attorney General believed this action clearly violated the US Constitution. But their opinions were drowned out by political, military, and media pressure which fueled - and was fueled by - public hysteria.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 giving the US Army authority to prescribe "military areas" from which "any or all persons may be excluded." Soon, the Army designed all of California, western Oregon and Washington, and southern Arizona as military "exclusion zones" and more than 110,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were singled out as "any or all persons" to be excluded.

In the spring and summer of 1942, as war with Japan raged half-a-world away, hundreds of Japanese Americans arrived at Manzanar each day. Ranging in age from newborns to an 86-year-old widower, about two-thirds were US citizens by birth. Their parents, many of whom had lived in the United States for decades, were denied citizenship by law. Grace Shinoda Nakamura recalled the day she came to Manzanar:

"On May 16, 1942 at 9:30 a.m., we departed ... for an unknown destination ... I can remember vividly the plight of the elderly, some on stretchers, orphans herded onto the train by caretakers, and especially a young couple with four pre-school children. The mother had two frightened toddlers hanging on to her coat. In her arms, she carried two crying babies. The father had diapers and other baby paraphernalia strapped to his back. In his hands he struggled with duffle bag and suitcase."

Like everyone else, Grace lived in the square-mile housing area. By November, 1942, it would be surrounded by a barbed wire fence and eight guard towers patrolled and staffed by Military Police. The housing area was divided into 36 blocks. Each block had 14 barracks, typically divided into four "apartments," a mess hall, a recreation hall, men’s and women’s latrines, and laundry and ironing rooms. Each apartment was furnished with an oil stove, a single hanging light bulb, cots, and blankets. Japanese Americans stuffed straw into canvas bags to create make-shift mattresses. There was little or no privacy for the 200 to 300 people crowded into each block.

Because most people came from Los Angeles and other communities in California and Washington, they were unaccustomed to the harsh desert environment where summer temperatures soar as high as 110ºF. In winter, temperatures frequently plunge below freezing. Throughout the year strong winds sweep through the valley, blanketing Manzanar with dust and sand.

Most Japanese Americans worked or attended school. They took jobs as doctors, teachers, nurses, firefighters, cooks, farmers, clerks, and all of the other occupations needed to maintain a "city" of 10,000. They earned from $12 to $19 per month on a wage scale set low to insure they would not earn more than an Army private’s $21 monthly salary. Life continued as 188 couples married and 541 babies arrived. One hundred and fifty people died.

A total of 11,070 people were confined at Manzanar between March 21, 1942 to November 21, 1945. John Tateishi reflected, "At four years old I knew we were here because we were Japanese. At four years old, I noticed whites could leave. I saw white faces in cars going by on the highway. That was America out there." In Manzanar, he told his brothers "I want to go to America." They replied, "This is America, Stupid."

In all, the US government exiled and confined 120,313 Japanese Americans, most in camps in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. While many Japanese Americans avoided speaking about the war years, one cold December day in 1969, 150 people journeyed to the site on the first organized Manzanar Pilgrimage. An annual event ever since, the pilgrimage attracts more than 1,000 people of all ages from diverse backgrounds. On the last Saturday of April each year, they gather at the Manzanar cemetery for a day of remembrance with speeches, a memorial service, and a traditional ondo dance. For them, and many others, Manzanar is a place to remember and to vow “Never again.”

The pilgrimages fueled a grass-roots movement to preserve Manzanar, led by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee. They succeeded in having Manzanar designated as a California Historic Landmark, National Historic Landmark, and ultimately a National Historic Site. When Congress established Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992, it charged the National Park Service with preserving the site and its stories.

More than 80,000 people visit each year. Most see the introductory film, Remembering Manzanar, and view exhibits and audio-visual programs in the restored camp auditorium. Nearly all of the 800 buildings that made up Manzanar War Relocation Center are gone - long since relocated to other areas or demolished - but the auditorium, stone sentry posts, cemetery monument, historic orchards, rock gardens, and foundations remain to evoke Manzanar’s past and its importance as a lesson for the future.

The World War II confinement of Japanese Americans lasted from 1942 to 1945. Nearly forty years later, the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded: “Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity… The broad historical causes that shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

As you explore Cyark’s virtual reconstruction of Manzanar, consider the US Constitution and the protections it promises at a place where - not so long ago - they were largely forgotten.

To learn more, visit:
The National Park Service website for Manzanar National Historic Site

The Manzanar Virtual Museum

Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project

The National Park Service’s suggested reading list

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Point cloud animation of the Manzanar cemetery, created from laser scan data.

Preservation

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In 2011, CyArk was awarded a grant by the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program to create 3D digital recreations of some of the sites associated with the confinement and incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Today, few buildings remain at the former War Relocation Authority (WRA) centers, making it difficult for visitors to imagine, and all too easy to forget, this important and tragic chapter in United States history.

Using laser scanning and other state-of-the-art technologies, CyArk has created 3D digital recreations of portions of the camps at Manzanar, Tule Lake, and Topaz. These reconstructions and interactive virtual tours of the sites, as they appear today, are accompanied by historic photographs, newspaper clippings, oral histories and historic artwork. CyArk’s goal is to provide a glimpse of how these places appeared when Japanese Americans were confined at these sites.
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Area Descriptions

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Administration Housing
Auditorium
Baseball Field
Block 01 Administrative Offices
Barracks 01
Barracks 02
Barracks 03
Barracks 04
Barracks 05
Barracks 06
Barracks 07
Barracks 08
Shoyu and Tofu Manufacturing
Block 12 Garden
Block 22 Garden
Block 33 Garden
Block 34 Garden
Block 9 Garden
Camouflage Net Factory
Cemetery
Cherry Park
Chicken Ranch
Children's Village
Elementary School Block 16
Entrance
Firebreaks
Garages
Guard Tower
Guayule Lath House
High School Block 07
Hospital
Administration
Doctor's & Nurse's Quarters
Doctor's Quarters
Heating Room
Laundry
Mess Hall
Morgue
Nurse's Quarters
Ward 1
Ward 2
Ward 3
Ward 4
Ward 5
Ward 6
Ward 7
Judo Dojo
Kendo Dojo
Manzanar Town
Merritt Park
Military Police
Residential Blocks
Residential Block 14
Barrack 01
Barrack 08
Barrack 15
Ironing Room
Laundry
Men's Latrine
Mess Hall
Women's Latrine
Shepherd Ranch
Wilder Orchard
WRA Administration Building

Administration Housing Description:

Employees of the War Relocation Authority (WRA) lived south of the camp entrance. In contrast to the barracks in which Japanese Americans lived, most WRA staff lived in apartments or dormitories with kitchens and bathrooms. To the north of the WRA housing area, an L-shaped building served as the WRA administrative offices. The staff mess hall was nearby, as well as a reception building and the Manzanar town hall. The traffic circle, rock alignments, and concrete foundations and steps remain today.


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Auditorium Description:

Constructed by Japanese American crews in 1944, this structure served as the Manzanar High School auditorium and as a place for community events including plays, dances, and funerals. After the war, it was used by Owens Valley residents until 1951. The building was later acquired by Inyo County, which utilized it as a heavy equipment shop for four decades. In 1996, the National Park Service (NPS) purchased the building, and eventually restored it to serve as the visitor center for Manzanar National Historic Site. Today, it houses a large exhibit area, two movie theaters, a bookstore, and offices for NPS staff.


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Baseball Field Description:

Baseball was played throughout the camp, but here, at Manzanar’s main baseball field, thousands of fans gathered for epic match-ups between the Scorpions, Padres, Has-Beens, and other teams. Baseball was a powerful symbol of an American way of life that boosted morale and brought some sense of normalcy to a confined community. By summer 1942, nearly 100 men’s and 14 women’s softball teams were playing a full schedule of games. Teams like the San Fernando Aces and San Pedro Gophers came intact from their pre-war communities while other teams formed in camp.


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Block 01 Administrative Offices Description:

Different than the typical residential block, Block 1 was used for various purposes at different times, including the Manzanar Free Press newspaper; Public Works and Public Relations; Adult Education; General Education; Personnel and Statistics; Manzanar Cooperative Enterprises; Housing Department; and Mail Delivery. Block 1’s laundry and ironing rooms were eventually interconnected by a 20-by-30-foot building, where Japanese American workers made shoyu (soy sauce) and tofu.


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Barracks 01 Description:

Barracks 1 of Block 1 served as an office for the Manzanar Free Press newspaper.


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Barracks 02 Description:

Barracks 2 of Block 1 served as an office for Manzanar's Public Works and Public Relations.


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Barracks 03 Description:

Barracks 3 of Block 1 served as an office for Adult Education.


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Barracks 04 Description:

Barracks 4 of Block 1 served as an office for General Education.


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Barracks 05 Description:

Barracks 5 of Block 1 served as an office for Personnel and Statistics.


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Barracks 06 Description:

Barracks 6 of Block 1 served as an office for Manzanar Cooperative Enterprises.


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Barracks 07 Description:

Barracks 7 of Block 1 served as an office for the Housing Department.


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Barracks 08 Description:

Barracks 8 of Block 1 served as an office for Mail Delivery.


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Shoyu and Tofu Manufacturing Description:

Block 1’s laundry and ironing rooms were eventually interconnected by a 20-by-30-foot building, where Japanese American workers made shoyu (soy sauce) and tofu.


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Block 12 Garden Description:

Designed and built by Japanese Americans, mess hall gardens served as a source of block identity and pride. This and other gardens in Blocks 9, 22, and 34, share symbolic roots in ancient Japanese design. In each, you will find three distinct levels aligned north to south: a hill of earth represents the mountains from which water flows south to a pond, symbolizing an ocean or lake.


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Block 22 Garden Description:

Like the other mess hall gardens in Manzanar it inspired, the Block 22 garden was a place of beauty. A huge cottonwood stump, wagon wheels, old barrels, desert plants, and a pond surrounded people as they waited in line for meals three times a day. Unlike the other gardens, Block 22 was also the scene of turmoil in December 1942 when a popular and outspoken kitchen worker was accused of beating a fellow Japanese American and arrested. Hundreds of angry supporters converged here to protest. Later that evening, violence broke out at the camp entrance in what became known as the Manzanar “Riot.”


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Block 33 Garden Description:

Located between barracks 3 and 4 in Block 33, this “family pond” was constructed by Jack Arai. He stocked it with local fish and mail-ordered water lilies. Nearby, he planted chrysanthemums and Japanese vegetables. Mr. Arai’s daughter mentioned the pond’s existence in an oral history interview, which led NPS staff to locate and excavate the pond in 2011.


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Block 34 Garden Description:

San-shi-en, or 3-4 Garden. Designed and built by block residents, mess hall gardens served as a source of block identity and pride. Japanese Americans hauled stones from the rugged Inyo Mountains to the east for the Block 34 garden. It was buried by sand and sediment for fifty years, until NPS archeologists unearthed it in 1999. The NPS later excavated a mess hall root cellar to the west, reconstructed the historic fence, secured stones, and repaired and extended the mess hall sidewalk.


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Block 9 Garden Description:

This garden, along with the gardens in Blocks 12, 22, and 34, share symbolic roots in ancient Japanese design. In each, you will find three distinct levels aligned north to south: a hill of earth represents the mountains from which water flows south to a pond, symbolizing an ocean or lake.


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Camouflage Net Factory Description:

America went to work for the war effort in 1942, and Manzanar was no exception. More than 500 Japanese Americans wove camouflage nets for the US Army, producing an average of 6,000 nets a month in three 18’ tall sheds built on long concrete slabs. The net factory closed in December 1942 and the sheds were converted to other uses.


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Cemetery Description:

Although 150 people died while the camp was in operation, most were cremated or buried elsewhere. Fifteen were buried at the Manzanar cemetery. After the war, all but six of the bodies were removed. Stonemason Ryozo Kado designed the large monument and Buddhist minister Shinjo Nagatomi inscribed the Japanese characters on it. The front (facing east) reads "soul consoling tower" and the back (facing west) reads "Erected by Manzanar Japanese, August 1943." The cemetery monument has come to play an important role in remembrance and civil action. Since 1969, the cemetery site has been the location of the Manzanar Committee’s annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on the last Saturday of April.


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Cherry Park Description:

One of many gardens throughout the site, Cherry Park included nearly 1,000 cherry trees in the fire break just south of the Children’s Village orphanage. None of the trees remain, but the NPS hopes to complete an archeological survey of the area to look for other evidence of the park.


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Chicken Ranch Description:

Agricultural workers produced much of the food consumed in the mess halls at Manzanar, including eggs and poultry. Just outside the southern border of the camp, the chicken ranch had 16 buildings including warehouses, eight brooder houses, and six laying houses, and housed more than 10,000 chickens. Today, cement foundations remain.


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Children's Village Description:

Here in an old pear orchard, 101 American-born children ranging from newborns to 18 year olds lived in the Children’s Village, the only orphanage in a war relocation center. Nearly half had been brought from West Coast institutions and foster homes. Others were temporarily separated from families when their parents were arrested or became ill. Some were infants born to unmarried mothers. Children’s Village had three specially-built barracks and was landscaped with lawns, flowers, and cherry trees.


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Elementary School Block 16 Description:

While more than 2,300 children from over 200 schools came to Manzanar, no plans were initially in place for their education. By the fall of 1942, elementary classes were held in recreation halls throughout the camp, while the high school took over barracks in Block 7. In May 1944, the barracks in Block 16 were converted to an elementary school for 700 children.


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Entrance Description:

The original camp entrance was located north of here, but in fall 1942, Stonemason Ryozo Kado constructed the two stone sentry posts for a new entrance. The Military Police staffed the larger sentry post (east) while Japanese American internal police staffed the smaller post (west). The buildings are original, although both have new doors, windows, and roofs. The “Manzanar War Relocation Center” sign is a reproduction hung on the original posts. The Manzanar “riot” took place near the internal police sentry post on December 6, 1942. Ultimately, two men died and nine others were wounded when the Military Police fired, without orders, into the crowd.


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Firebreaks Description:

Designed as “empty” spaces intersecting at every four blocks to prevent the rapid spread of fire, firebreaks offered welcome “breathing space” in the crowded camp. They were used for sports fields, parks, Victory Gardens, an outdoor theater, as well as for special events such as the annual Obon festival.


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Garages Description:

WRA and Japanese American staff repaired and maintained equipment in the camp's motor pool. Workers used cars, trucks, and other machinery for many jobs at Manzanar including delivering food to mess halls, transporting patients to and from the hospital, and moving materials for construction and agriculture.


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Guard Tower Description:

Between June and November of 1942, the Army built eight guard towers just outside of the barbed wire fence that surrounded the camp’s one square mile living area. Military Police patrolled the perimeter and were posted in each guard tower. After December 25, 1943, the WRA and Army loosened these security procedures, leaving soldiers stationed only at the main entrance. Guard tower 8, located on the east side of the camp, was reconstructed by the NPS in 2005.


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Guayule Lath House Description:

During the spring of 1942, the California Institute of Technology started a guayule nursery experiment at Manzanar in order to produce rubber from guayule plant cuttings. A number of Japanese American scientists cultivated guayule plants raised in a lath house south of Block 6, and successfully produced high quality rubber. While nothing remains of the lath house, guayule plants from the original Manzanar seed are planted at the entrance to the auditorium/visitor center.


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High School Block 07 Description:

The Manzanar High School was located in Block 7, just south of the auditorium, in an area originally designated as a residential block. The barracks were used as classrooms. The Block 7 mess hall was used as the high-school study hall and library. Students in the home economics program also used Barracks 10 of Block 7 and converted 2 of the apartments into a model home. Block 7's laundry room hosted high school physics and chemistry classes, where students and teachers could utilize pre-existing laundry tubs and newly-built supply cabinets.


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Hospital Description:

When Japanese Americans first arrived at Manzanar, the only medical facility was a barracks in Block 1 that lacked running water. Eventually, three barracks in Block 7 were converted to a make-shift hospital. In July, 1942, the “permanent” 250-bed hospital opened in the northwest corner of the camp. A central hallway connected seven wards with specific designations, including wards for female patients, male patients, female tuberculosis patients, male tuberculosis patients, laboratory and classrooms, children patients, and isolation and contagious diseases.


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Administration Description:

The hospital’s administration building. The central building was connected to the main wards of the hospital by an enclosed walkway. It served as space for offices, an x-ray room, an operating room, a pharmacy, and clinics for dental, medical, and optometry.


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Doctor's & Nurse's Quarters Description:

Just south of the hospital block in the firebreak, a 110-foot barracks housed Caucasian nurses and doctors.


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Doctor's Quarters Description:

Located just south of the central administration building, the doctor's quarters housed Japanese American doctors. Also inside were shower stalls and a hot water heater. An open walkway connected the doctor’s quarters to the main wards of the hospital.


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Heating Room Description:

West of the hospital wards and north of the hospital laundry room, the heating plant had a bathroom, two feed pumps, a 10,000-gallon-capacity surge tank, two 6,000 gallon oil storage tanks, and three 74 horsepower boilers.


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Laundry Description:

The laundry room was located west of the main hospital wards. With the immense task of cleaning all of the hospital linens, the hospital laundry room had a 300-gallon-capacity hot water heater, two washers, two tumblers, two extractors, ironing boards, and storage shelves.


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Mess Hall Description:

Located near the center of the wards, the hospital mess hall had access to a wider variety of foods than other mess halls since many patients required particular diets.


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Morgue Description:

The westernmost building in the hospital block, the morgue had the capacity for four bodies at a time, but embalming and cremation were done in nearby towns.


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Nurse's Quarters Description:

Japanese American nurses lived just north of the central administration building. Inside their quarters were shower stalls and a hot water heater. An open walkway connected the nurse’s quarters to the main wards of the hospital.


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Ward 1 Description:

Ward designated for female patients.


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Ward 2 Description:

Ward designated for male patients.


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Ward 3 Description:

Ward designated for female tuberculosis patients.


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Ward 4 Description:

Ward designated for male tuberculosis patients.


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Ward 5 Description:

Ward designated for laboratory and classrooms.


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Ward 6 Description:

Children’s ward.


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Ward 7 Description:

Ward designated for isolation and contagious diseases.


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Judo Dojo Description:

Before the war, judo (Japanese martial art) dojos (studios) thrived in many Japanese American communities. Under the guidance of Seigoro Murakami and Shigeo Tashima, 400 judo students practiced here on a 40’ by 60’ canvas-covered sawdust platform. Sliding screens were added in winter. “When we weren’t practicing hard enough, Sensei (teacher) Murakami would open the screens and blast us with the cold air,” recalled Isamu Yamashita. Sidewalks connected the dojo to a dressing and storage room, built on the foundation of Ed Shepherd’s ranch house from decades earlier.


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Kendo Dojo Description:

Enthusiasts of kendo (Japanese fencing) practiced in a dojo near Block 10. Most were among Manzanar’s Kibei population, American-born Japanese educated in Japan, whose strong cultural and political ties to that country often put them in conflict with other Japanese Americans. Following the 1943 “Loyalty Questionnaire,” many Kibei were sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center and the Manzanar Free Press reported “all interest in kendo has died away.”


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Manzanar Town Description:

The town of Manzanar started in 1910 as a planned agricultural subdivision. By 1920 it was an oasis of orchards, fields, and gardens. Two hundred people lived here and fifty children attended the grammar school. In 1924, as Los Angeles began buying additional land and water rights in the Owens Valley, many Manzanar families sold their property and left, some willingly, others reluctantly. By 1935, the town was abandoned.


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Merritt Park Description:

Merritt Park was a rare oasis of beauty and solitude in Manzanar, with paths and waterways, bridges, lawns, and flower gardens. Kuichiro Nishi, Tak Muto, and their crews created the park in 1943. They built a gazebo on a concrete foundation and placed two massive upright stones to mark the park’s southern corners. It was first called Rose Park, then Pleasure Park, and finally renamed Merritt Park, in honor of Project Director Ralph Merritt.


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Military Police Description:

The Military Police patrolled the perimeter of the camp and manned the guard towers. The soldiers lived in 12 buildings located just south of Manzanar's barbed-wire fence. The MP compound included barracks, officer’s quarters, offices, a recreation building, mess hall, guardhouse, first aid station, bath and latrines, and a motor pool.


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Residential Blocks Description:

The Manzanar incarceree residential blocks.


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Residential Block 14 Description:

One of 36 “residential” blocks during World War II, today Block 14 has two reconstructed barracks buildings as well as a World War II-era mess hall that visitors can explore to get an idea of what life was like for more than 11,000 Japanese Americans confined in Manzanar. The locations of other buildings in the block are marked as well. The NPS hopes to reconstruct Block 14’s latrines, laundry room, and ironing room in the future.


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Barrack 01 Description:

Barracks 1, located in the southeast corner of Block 14, appears as barracks would have when Japanese Americans first arrived at Manzanar in early 1942. The walls and floors of each 20’ x 25’ apartment are bare wood, with 8’ high partitions between apartments. During the war, there were more than 500 barracks at Manzanar, initially divided into four apartments, with an average of 8 people assigned to live in each apartment. Since this barracks was reconstructed in 2010, it had to meet modern building codes and has structural and accessibility features (like ramps) that the original barracks did not have. Exhibits are currently being developed, including one on the Block Manager’s office which was located in apartment 1 on the north end of the building.


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Barrack 08 Description:

Barracks 8, located in the northeast corner of Block 14, recreates an “improved” barracks with linoleum flooring, and covered walls and ceilings, which were installed by late 1942. During the war, there were more than 500 barracks at Manzanar. As the camp’s population decreased over time, fewer people lived in each apartment. Since this barracks was reconstructed in 2010, it had to meet modern building codes and has structural and accessibility features (like ramps) that the original barracks did not have. Exhibits are currently being developed for two apartments in this building.


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Barrack 15 Description:

Each block also had a recreation hall, designated as Building 15, located south of the mess hall. The recreation halls were identical to the barracks, but internal partitions varied based on use.2


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Ironing Room Description:

Ironing rooms were added to each of the residential barracks blocks, beginning in June of 1942. The buildings were 20’ x 28’ wood-frame, gable roofed buildings with tarpaper sheeting on the exteriors.2


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Laundry Description:

Each block contained one 20’ x 50’ laundry building located between Barracks 7 and 14. Like the other buildings in the residential blocks, the laundry rooms were wood-framed buildings, covered in tarpaper. Unlike the barracks buildings, however, the floors were concrete rather than wood. Each laundry room had 12 laundry tubs.2


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Men's Latrine Description:

72 latrines were built in Manzanar. These structures were wood-frame, gable-roofed buildings, measuring 20’ x 30’ in size, with concrete slab foundations. The latrines were located at the east end of the row of support buildings in each block. Internees built an ofuro or Japanese style bath in the men’s shower room in Block 6. Ofuros were built with cement rather than traditional wood and by October 1942, half the blocks had them.2


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Mess Hall Description:

The mess hall, identified as Building 16 was the largest building on each block, measuring 40’ x 100’ in size, basically consisting of two barrack buildings bolted together. Mess halls were located at the western end of each block, opposite the recreation hall.2


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Women's Latrine Description:

The block’s women’s latrine.


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Shepherd Ranch Description:

In 1864, cattleman John Shepherd homesteaded 160 acres of land and brought his family to a small adobe cabin he built nearby. As one of the first Euroamerican settlers in the area, Shepherd employed dozens of Paiute men and women, whose labor helped him prosper. He supplied mining camps with beef, hay, and grain, hauled ore to Southern California, and operated a toll road to eastside mines. By 1900, the Shepherd Ranch encompassed 1,700 acres, much of which would become Manzanar War Relocation Center. John Shepherd retired and sold the ranch to developer George Chaffey in 1905, who in turn developed the town of Manzanar.


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Wilder Orchard Description:

The Wilder Orchard sits east of the Children's Village. In the early 1900s, hundreds of apple, pear, and peach trees occupied the Manzanar landscape. Romeo Wilder planted pear trees in this orchard about 1918. Decades later, Japanese Americans tended the trees and harvested fruit to serve in the mess halls. Since 2006, the NPS has rehabilitated more than 100 fruit trees, installed new irrigation systems, and pruned and grafted old stock to new roots to preserve Manzanar’s heirloom fruit varieties.


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WRA Administration Building Description:

The WRA administrative area consisted of buildings used for offices, storage, community government, a mess hall, and housing for the staff and their families. This L-shaped building served as the headquarters of Manzanar’s War Relocation Authority (WRA) staff, including the Project Director. Some Japanese Americans worked in clerical and other jobs in the WRA Administration Building.


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