2023 April : Los Angeles city officials unveil educational tribute to Internment Camp In Griffith Park

At the unveiling ceremony of the Griffith Park Internment Camp sign on April 20, participants included June Aochi Berk of Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition (left) and Phil Leirness, President of LA Breakfast Club Foundation. Photo by Lily Holleman.

Los Angeles — From February 1942 to July 1943, Griffith Park was home to a U.S.  Army-operated internment camp that confined Japanese, German and Italian Americans without due process.

The park is publicly recognizing this history for the first time with the installation of an educational sign to bring awareness to the site and honor the memory of those who were interned.

Councilmember Nithya Raman and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks official Jimmy Kim attended a ceremony to unveil the sign on Thursday, April 20 at Travel Town in Griffith Park.

Along with Councilmember Raman and Park Department’s Kim, speakers of the event included: Kyoko Nancy Oda, President of Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition; John Esaki, Vice President of Japanese American Museum; Linda Barth, Travel Town Historian; Sigrid Toye, family member of interned prisoner; Kathy Masaoka, family member of interned prisoner; Phil Leirness, Past President of LA Breakfast Club Foundation.

During WWII, before the mass incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans, thousands of Japanese, German, and Italian immigrant leaders were confined without due process in U.S. detention and internment camps as suspected threats to national security. One internment camp was in Griffith Park at the site of the former Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Riverside. From February 1942 to July 1943, this internment camp held small numbers of men for brief periods of time until they could be moved to other camps away from the West Coast.

The Griffith Park Camp consisted of two separate but adjoining areas enclosed by two ten-foot fences topped with barbed wire. Initially, one enclosure had three portable CCC barracks that could accommodate 150 individuals. Later, 50 tents were added to the second enclosure to accommodate 400 additional people.

The Army retained control of this property until 1947 when it was returned to the Park. Today it is home to the Travel Town Museum and the Los Angeles Live Steamers.