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Portland Assembly Center file photo [32071]

Portland Assembly Center

Type   269 Prison Camp
Historical Name of Location   Portland, Oregon, United States
Coordinates   45.605940000, -122.689369000

Contributor:

ww2dbaseOriginally built as the Pacific International Livestock Exposition in the early 1920s, hosting exhibitions and auctions. In early 1942, the facilities were leased by the US federal government for US$27,000 a year for the purpose of housing Japanese-Americans, many of whom citizens of the United States. The grounds were divided up into eight sections, with the first seven sections converted into small apartments for families, and one section converted as a dormitory for male occupants. Living units contained cots and mattresses (mostly of them cotton, but some were filled with straw). Each section had an area for recreation, assemblies, and education, and the entire camp shared a mess hall, a library (1,000 books from the Portland City Library System, 600 textbooks from the Portland Public School System, 150 books from private donations), a post office, a small store, a hospital (70 beds; initially only one doctor and few nurses, later expanded to one chief medical officer, two doctors, three dentists, three optometrists, four nurses, and 18 nurse's aides), and a laundry facility. The camp officially began operations in May 1942 under the administration of Emil Sandquist, housing those who had originally resided in Oregon and southern Washington, the US state immediately north of Oregon. The camp had a small advisory committee made of internees, and it met with the camp administrator regularly. For outdoor recreation, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, baseball diamonds, softball diamonds, and a nine-hole golf course were set up by the internees on grounds previously used for livestock shows. Movie showings and dances were also held. Given that summer arrived shortly after the camp began operations, internees soon began to noticed that the buildings, originally designed for livestock and in fewer numbers, had inadequate ventilation, and thus resulting in heat issues. On 2 Jul 1942, US Public Health Service inspector Philip J. Coffey measured a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) in one of the apartments, which led to the closure of school classes for some time and a temporary extension of the curfew from 2200 to 2350 hours. Many internees also recalled that the grounds were inadequately cleaned before laying down flooring, thus the stench of animal waste and flies that were attracted by the stench were aplenty. Internees of the Portland Assembly Center also recalled of a lack of privacy due to the use of canvas curtains as front doors of each apartment unit, walls that did not reach the ceilings of the structures, and unpartitioned bathrooms. Internees also recalled a certain threatening feeling, as the camp was surrounded by barbed wire fencing, watched over by machine gun towers, and guarded by armed soldiers. Some internees felt insulted by the sounds of music and laughter from the visitors of Jantzen Beach Amusement Park who were free while the internees were imprisoned. Unlike most other assembly centers, Portland Assembly Center had flush toilets installed, which the internees appreciated despite of the total lack of privacy. In May 1942, about 250 internees were temporarily sent to northern California, United States to construct the Tule Lake War Relocation Center; later, volunteers were sent to various farms in Oregon to perform agricultural work. At its height, on 6 Jun 1942, 3,676 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned at Portland Assembly Center. In Jul 1942, Nicholas Bican took over as the camp's chief administrator. In Aug 1942, the internees were informed that they would be relocated to the permanent camps Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, United States; Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States; and Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California, United States. Departures from the Portland Assembly Center began on 29 Aug 1942, and the final group of internees departed on 10 Sep 1942. The facilities were returned to civilian usage on 30 Sep 1942. Livestock shows and auctions continued for some years. In 1970, it became the site of the annual Multnomah County Fair. The first Day of Remembrance at the former internment camp site was held in Feb 1979. In 1996, the Portland metropolitan government took over the site and renamed the entire complex the Portland Expo Center. At the time of this writing in 2022, the Portland Expo Center hosts many conventions and other events throughout the year. Several memorials exists on site in remembrances to the injustices done to the Japanese-Americans during WW2.

ww2dbaseSources:
Densho Encyclopedia
Wikipedia



Portland Assembly Center Interactive Map

Portland Assembly Center Timeline

1 Apr 1942 Emil Sandquist established a headquarters at the future site of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
2 May 1942 The first group of 372 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Portland, Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
4 May 1942 724 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
5 May 1942 680 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
11 May 1942 252 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
12 May 1942 808 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
17 May 1942 Representatives of the US War Relocation Authority visited Portland Assembly Center and recruited about 250 volunteers among the internee population to assist in the construction of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Newell, California, United States.
20 May 1942 202 Japanese-American internees, mostly from Oregon, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
26 May 1942 About 250 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for Newell, California, United States to assist in the construction of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.
5 Jun 1942 520 Japanese-American internees, mostly from the neighboring state of Washington, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
6 Jun 1942 628 Japanese-American internees, mostly from the neighboring state of Washington, arrived at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States. As of this date, the camp prisoner population was 3,676, which would be the camp's peak population.
21 Jun 1942 Karl Bendetsen toured the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
2 Jul 1942 US Public Health Service inspector Philip J. Coffey measured a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degress Celsius) in a residential unit at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
10 Jul 1942 An outbreak of measles at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States led to the closure of kindergarten and primary school classes; classes would not resume until 20 Jul.
16 Jul 1942 Nicholas Bican became the chief administrator of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
14 Aug 1942 Election for the camp advisory council took place at the the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States.
19 Aug 1942 Internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States were informed that they were to be relocated to Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, United States; Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States; and Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California, United States.
29 Aug 1942 498 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, United States.
30 Aug 1942 440 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, United States.
3 Sep 1942 78 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California, United States.
6 Sep 1942 500 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States.
7 Sep 1942 494 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States.
8 Sep 1942 501 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States.
9 Sep 1942 506 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States, and 48 internees departed for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, United States.
10 Sep 1942 The final 317 internees of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States departed for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, United States.
30 Sep 1942 The facilities of the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon, United States were returned to civilian use.
17 Feb 1979 The first Day of Remembrance at the former Portland Assembly Center site in Oregon, United States was held. 1,200 to 1,500 people attended.

Photographs

Armed guards and barbed wire fencing at the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon, United States, 1942; the soldiers on guard were Private Ellis Crawford (walking), Corporal Frank Rausch (standing at gate), and Private Gust Papas (standing at gate)Japanese internees arriving at the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon, United States, 1942




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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Portland, Oregon, United States
Lat/Long 45.6059, -122.6894
Portland Assembly Center Photo Gallery
Armed guards and barbed wire fencing at the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon, United States, 1942; the soldiers on guard were Private Ellis Crawford (walking), Corporal Frank Rausch (standing at gate), and Private Gust Papas (standing at gate)Japanese internees arriving at the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon, United States, 1942


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