Manzanar Hosts Record number of Visitors in 2015
submitted by Manzanar National Historic Site
Over 95,000 people from throughout the United States and around the world visited Manzanar National Historic Site in 2015. From near and far, youth and elders, first-time visitors and former incarcerees, all had a variety of opportunities to connect to the site, its stories, and each other.
“I’m happy to see so many people coming to learn about Manzanar,” Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said. “While the site is best known for its wartime history, its layers of the past echo the larger themes of American history, including the displacement of Native Americans, the settlement of ranchers and farmers, water wars, and the consequences of prejudice.” She continued, “These valuable lessons about social justice, racism and prejudice are critical.”
Manzanar’s 2015 visitation was nearly 23% higher than in 2014 and surpassed a 2009 record of 89,000. “Record visitation tests the site’s staffing capacity,” said Superintendent Johnson. “I’m grateful that we have a committed staff dedicated to providing high quality visitor experiences.”
In 2015, Manzanar opened 3,000 s.f. of new exhibits in two reconstructed barracks, hosted thousands of school children, and received more than 7,500 hours of service from 318 volunteers.
On a national level in 2016, Congress recently provided an increase in funding for national park units. Manzanar was the recipient of 2016 Centennial Challenge funding allowing the site to leverage these funds with donations from Friends of Manzanar and private donors to expand exhibits in Block 14. Congress is considering separate National Park Service Centennial legislation to further improve the national parks by encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism, while also allowing the National Park Service to improve visitor services and connect with a new generation of national park visitors.
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. Visitors can explore the personal experiences of individuals, families, and communities incarcerated at Manzanar. The restored camp auditorium serves as a visitor center and houses extensive exhibits. Nearby, a World War II-era mess hall and two reconstructed barracks highlight the challenges of daily life. An auto tour road circles the site, highlighting Japanese gardens, historic orchards, the cemetery, and more.
Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, please call 760-878-2194 ext. 3310 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/manz or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.
Cover Photo by Gary Young.