INDEPENDENCE — More than 105,000 people from throughout the U.S. and around the world visited Manzanar National Historic Site in 2016, topping the previous year’s record of 95,000.
From near and far, youth and elders, first-time visitors and Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated, all had a variety of opportunities to connect to the site, its stories, and each other. Manzanar has seen continuing increases in visitation including 11 percent in 2016 and 23 percent in 2015.
“Our mission at Manzanar is to preserve the site and share its stories,” Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said. “We were honored to host so many visitors in 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service. We mark another anniversary in 2017, the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the World War II incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans.
“This year also marks the 75th anniversary of Manzanar War Relocation Center’s opening and the 25th anniversary of Manzanar National Historic Site’s establishment.”
The Manzanar site continues to evolve. In 2016, the National Park Service reconstructed the Block 14 women’s latrine, which will eventually feature exhibits. A new accessible sidewalk links the Visitor Center, barracks, and latrine. Park staff are also developing an exhibit on education in Manzanar in Barrack 8. Work continues throughout the site to preserve the Japanese gardens, historic orchards, and other site features.
Congress established Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992, the result of decades of efforts by Japanese Americans and others. Since then, the National Park Service has worked with scores of stakeholders to preserve and interpret Manzanar and its stories.