The Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial Committee (TACMC) is in the midst of building the Tanforan Memorial located just outside the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in San Bruno, California. This is the site of the former racetrack converted into a detention center from April through October 1942.
TACMC, partnering with the Bay Area landscape architectural firm RHAA, is working through the designing and planning of a bronze statue memorial plaza outside the San Bruno BART station. In honor of their Japanese American founding partners, Asa Hanamoto, Kazuo Abey, and Harold Kobayashi, RHAA is generously doing the work pro bono.
The artist and foundry selected to create and install the bronze sculpture are Sandra Shaw and the American Fine Arts Foundry. The proposed statue is based on photographs taken by Dorothea Lange in 1942 of young children dressed in their Sunday best on the way to Tanforan.
We held our long-awaited ribbon cutting ceremony of the memorial on August 27, 2022 on the memorial grounds located where the former Tanforan detention center was built within the former Tanforan Race Track. The memorial is located just outside the San Bruno BART train station. Over 750 people attended, including nearly 50 former Tanforan incarcerees and their families.
The memorial is open to the public 24/7 and features a bronze statue based on Dorothea Lange photos of two girls on their way to Tanforan in 1942, a wall of names listing those who were incarcerated at Tanforan April-October 2942, a replica horse stall, an Akebono cherry tree and personalized granite donor pavers.
A copy of the program listing all of the speakers and singers, photographs from the event and video links of the event are listed here.
Media coverage of the ribbon cutting included:
Media coverage of groundbreaking included:
On February 11, 2022, more than 100 community members joined the Tanforan Committee at a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the start of construction on the memorial. Speakers included U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, and San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina. Equipped with hard hats and shovels, Committee members participated in a ceremonial first dig at the memorial site. Construction on the memorial has continued over the spring and summer.
Originally co-sponsored with the Contra Costa JACL, a photographic exhibition of the works of Dorothea Lange and Paul Kitagaki Jr. was on display inside the San Bruno BART station from April 2012 to July 2022
These photos include ones taken by Lange in 1942 of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, in particular of the families destined for the Tanforan temporary detention center and, later, the Topaz concentration camp. Sixty years later, Paul Kitagaki Jr., whose parents and grandparents were subjects of some of the original Lange photos, tracked down and re-photographed many of the same people Lange documented in 1942.
This photo exhibition has been replaced with a new art exhibit featuring photographer Paul Kitagaki Dr. and artist Na Omi Shintani and others. The exhibit is open during BART business hours and BART requests that visitors check in with the station agent if they need temporary entry.
Native American Land Acknowledgement
We acknowledge that the Tanforan Memorial sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples. As evicted Japanese and Japanese Americans, we acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone as the First Peoples of this land to be forcibly removed from their traditional territory to the Spanish missions. We honor their ancestors, elders, and other members past, present, and future, and we hope you reflect on your relationship to the original peoples and to lands upon which you live and work.
NPS Acknowledgment of Support
The activity that is the subject of this memorial and photographic exhibition has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.
NPS Nondiscrimination Statement
This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity National Park Service 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240