Santa Anita (detention facility)
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|US Gov Name||Santa Anita Assembly Center, California|
|Facility Type||Temporary Assembly Center|
|Administrative Agency||Wartime Civil Control Administration|
|Location||Arcadia, California (34.1333 lat, -118.0333 lng)|
|Date Opened||March 27, 1942|
|Date Closed||October 27, 1942|
|Population Description||Held people from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara Counties, California.|
|General Description||Located at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California.|
|Peak Population||18,719 (1942-08-23)|
|Exit Destination||Poston, Topaz, Gila River, Heart Mountain, Jerome, Rohwer, Granada, and Manzanar|
|National Park Service Info|
The Santa Anita Assembly Center was one of seventeen temporary detention centers (euphemistically called "assembly centers") administered by the Wartime Civil Control Administration. Most Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast were sent to one of these centers during the spring and summer of 1942 while the more permanent concentration camps were being prepared.
The Santa Anita Assembly Center was located at the Santa Anita Racetrack, about eighteen miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The detention facility that was in operation for the longest time, it was populated from March 27 to October 27, 1942, a total of 215 days.
Spread over 420 acres, inmates at Santa Anita were held both in barracks and in horse stalls converted to living quarters, with approximately 8,500 held in the latter. The camp was divided into seven districts., with districts I, II, and III including the stable areas and districts IV, V, VI, and VII including the areas with newly constructed barracks There were six mess halls, which were named by color (blue, red, green, white, orange, and yellow).
After the closing of the assembly center, the site became Camp Santa Anita and became a training facility for the Army Ordnance Corps until November 1944. Later, it served as a POW camp holding captured German soldiers.
The inmates at the Santa Anita center came mostly from Los Angeles County with smaller numbers from Santa Clara, San Diego, and San Francisco Counties. The temporary detention center with the largest total population, it held a total of 19,348, with a maximum of 18,719. Santa Anita inmates were transferred for long term confinement to Heart Mountain, Amache, Rohwer, Jerome, Poston, and Gila River, with smaller numbers going to Manzanar and Topaz.
• The Santa Anita Pacemaker newspaper ran from April 18 to October 7, 1942, a total of fifty issues. It was the longest running of any of the purely assembly center papers. Eddie Shimano served as editor throughout its run.
• A camouflage net project operated for three months, with inmate workers producing 22,011 nets for use by the army.
• High school, middle school, and elementary school classes were taught by volunteer inmate teachers in the lobbies of the grandstand.
• A large scale disturbance (often called a "riot") took place in August, instigated by rumors of inmate policemen confiscating electrical appliances for personal use. The unrest was put down by army MPs and the declaration of martial law.
Santa Anita Park remains in operation as a horse racing track. A small plaque near the entrance commemorates the assembly center history. In November, 2009, the Arcadia Historical Museum featured the camp in the exhibition, "Only What We Could Carry: The Santa Anita Assembly Center” (Nov. 10, 2009 to Jan. 16, 2010).
For More Information
Bell, Alison. “Santa Anita racetrack played a role in WWII internment.” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 2009. Accessible online at http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/08/local/me-then8.
Burton, Jeffery F., Mary M. Farrell, Florence B. Lord, and Richard W. Lord. Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites. Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service, 1999, 2000. Foreword by Tetsuden Kashima. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002. The Santa Anita section of 2000 version accessible online athttp://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/anthropology74/ce16k.htm.
The California State Military Museum. "Camp Santa Anita." Accessible at http://www.militarymuseum.org/CpSantaAnita.html.
Harrison, Scott. “Japanese Internment: Santa Anita Assembly Center.” Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2012. Accessible online at http://framework.latimes.com/2012/04/19/japanese-internment-santa-anita-assembly-center/#/0.
Lehman, Anthony L. Birthright of Barbed Wire. Los Angeles: Westernlore Press, 1970.
“OTL: Dark History.” 2010 ESPN Outside the Lines segment on Santa Anita Assembly Center, accessible at http://search.espn.go.com/outside-the-lines/videos/6.
Oyama, Mary. "This Isn't Japan." Common Ground, Sept. 1942, 32–34. http://www.unz.org/Pub/CommonGround-1942q3-00032. [Contemporaneous account of life at Santa Anita by an inmate.]
Santa Anita Park website: http://www.santaanita.com/.
- ↑ Anthony L. Lehman, Birthright of Barbed Wire (Los Angeles: Westernlore Press, 1970), 46–47.
- ↑ Lehman, Birthright of Barbed Wire, 62–63; Harry H. L. Kitano, Japanese Americans: The Evolution of a Subculture (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1976), 73.
- ↑ Alison Bell, “Santa Anita racetrack played a role in WWII internment,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 2009. Accessed online at http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/08/local/me-then8 on May 15, 2012.