• Assembly Centers: A Rude Awakening


    Photos: (1) A sign in a Los Angeles store window urges customers to pick up their dry cleaning before it's too late, warning, "We won't take it to Owens Valley for you;"(2) Soldiers line up as evacuees arrive at Santa Anita;(3) Officials check IDs and search arriving Japanese; and(4) the military exclusion order is posted in San Francisco on April 1, 1942.

    Photo: A sign in a Los Angeles store window urges customers to pick up their dry cleaning before it's
too late, warning, We won't take it to Owens Valley for you;
    Photo: Soldiers line up as evacuees arrive at Santa Anita
    Photo: Officials check IDs and search arriving Japanese
    Photo:  the military exclusion order is posted in San Francisco on April 1, 1942.

    Unprepared for the mass removal of 120,000 men, women, and children, the U.S. Government looked for large sites that could be converted to secured facilities. Seventeen makeshift enclosures, which became known as "assembly centers," were converted from racetracks and fairgrounds.

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, authorizing the military to designate "military zones," General John L. DeWitt subsequently issued "Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry" (above, right) on March 2, 1942. The instructions, posted in prominent places throughout the Japanese American community, indicated where and when the Issei and Nisei were to report with their belongings.

    Evacuees from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties were sent to Pomona, Santa Anita and other locations, where they faced a cadre of soldiers as they arrived. At Santa Anita and other racetrack-type facilities, evacuees slept in empty horse stalls when they first arrived.

    The Pomona site consisted of over 300 barracks and held a maximum population of 5,434, most of whom were later sent to more permanent facilities in Heart Mountain. Some evacuees from Santa Anita, Pinedale, Puyallup and Portland assembly centers also went to Heart Mountain.

    The evacuees stayed in the assembly centers for three to four months until more permanent camps were established by the War Relocation Authority.

    Today, the barracks area of the Pomona assembly center is used as the midway for fairs and other events and for parking.


    Photo: Pomona Assembly Center is shown as construction continues on temporary barracks.

    Pomona Assembly Center is shown as construction continues on temporary barracks.


    Photo: It didn't take long for the evacuees to establish a newspaper, the Pomona Center News.

    It didn't take long for the evacuees to establish a newspaper, the Pomona Center News. The staff is shown here in a group photo. Among them is artist Estelle Ishigo (seated, second from right), who chose to be evacuated with her husband even though, as a Caucasian, she could have remained free.-PHOTO BY CLEM ALBERS



Photos: (1) A converted horse stall is "home" to this man at the "Santa Anita Assembly Center";(2) Mess hall at "Portland Assembly Center" is shown shortly before dinner;(3) These temporary confinement f acilities were inadequate for large families. An older child prepares these four boys for a nap in a single bed; and(4) Workers finish the fourth wall of a barracks at Pomona Fairgrounds.

Photo: An evacuee is shown inside a converted horse stall in Santa Anita
Photo: Mess hall at Portland Assembly Center is shown 
shortly before dinner
Photo: Assembly Center facilities were inadequate for 
large families.  An older child prepares these four 
boys for a nap in a single bed
Photo: Workers finish the fourth wall of a barracks at Pomona Fairgrounds.
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