A city-owned park in Pacifica, California, near San Francisco, was once an internment camp for Japanese American citizens.
Sharp Park, which is best known for its golf course, sits just five miles south of the city and county line. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city used the park to house impoverished San Franciscans during the Great Depression.
When WWII arrived, the park adopted a different purpose. The United States government, under instruction from J Edgar Hoover, had begun preparing to imprison “enemy foreigners” who were living in the United States. Sharp Park has already been designated as a potential site for an internment camp long before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, signed Executive Order 9066 after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December. Japanese Americans in Northern California were sent to Tanforan before being imprisoned at camps like Tule Lake, Manzanar or Topaz. According to KQED, residents who were considered “highly dangerous” were sent to Sharp Park.
It was Buddhist priests, it was Japanese language school teachers, newspaper editors,” Brian Niiya told KQED.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that on March 31, 1942, 193 foreigners, mostly Japanese, were transferred from Angel Island to Sharp Park. the park held 10 barracks with a capacity of 450 people. It was later expanded to hold 1,200 people but a first-generation Japanese American told the Chronicle there were never more than 500 people at Camp Sharp Park.
Most people held at Sharp Park did not stay for long, often being transferred on to larger camps. According to KQED, it is hard to find first-hand information about the internment camp. However, Stanford scholar Yamato Ichihashi, did keep a diary while at Sharp Park. He recalled being separated from his wife and son for two months while at the camp.
“I faced an unforgettable incident: an F.B.I. agent named Robert Hart came to the room at 2:30 and told me that I was ‘under arrest.’ I asked (what) was the charge and he replied no charge as far as he knew. I was told to pack things I wanted to take with me, but, I had no spare things with me,” he wrote, according to KQED.
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