Activity 10 – Journey to Manzanar: MERRITT PARK

The Beautification of Manzanar

At the Manzanar National Historic Site, there are many different gardens, although they can’t be seen. The entire site was bulldozed after the Japanese Americans could leave, but underneath the dirt and ruins many of their creations still remain.

These gardens, filled with ponds, bridges, rocks, flowers, etc., were created by the Japanese Americans who lived there. As a way of making Manzanar a beautiful home for themselves, they built gardens between the structures. They improved their living conditions and added a sense of hope to their lives.

Gardens became places for children to grow and play, and for adults to relax. Then and now, they stand as symbols of resistance and resilience.

Merritt Park (formerly Pleasure Park) was the most iconic example of this.  The well documented park was famously photographed by Ansel Adams and many others.  The site of Merritt Park was excavated and partially restored in 2011 and stands now today as an example of other smaller gardens thoughout Manzanar, some excavated, and others that remain beneath.

A management plan for the gardens is currently in the works, and will outline how they will be researched, restored, maintained, and interpreted in the coming years.




If you could design your own garden, what would it look like? Who would use it? Draw a photo of your own garden, or write about it. 


Journey to Manzanar Badge

How it works? This is a one of a kind patch created by a girl scout, but intended for everyone around the globe. Take part in 3 or more of the activities. Once you’re ready, click the button below and submit your work. A patch will be delivered to your door! We are grateful you’ve taken the time. What I hope more than anything is that you will tell others to take the virtual Journey to Manzanar, share what you’ve learned, and become an ambassador, like me, to this very important part of our American story.

Submit for a Patch Here!