Depression Era / Pre WWII
From the pages of The Sharp Park Breakers, December 17, 1938.
Original use for the camp: "….on behalf of the men who lost out for a time in the battle of life but who through the helpfulness of their fellows are staging an heroic comeback…"
There were 28 camps in northern California area originally designated to take the place of direct cash relief. Sharp Park was exclusively for men and only qualified residents of San Francisco and San Mateo County could enroll. Enrollees were all given physical exams and then rated as 1 -2 - 3 or 4. Rating 1 -3 meant capacity for work. A "4" rating was for sit-down duty. All were expected to perform some work such as: pick and shovel, yard work, kitchen help and clerical. A daily newspaper was published by the camp.
Some cash allowances were given: $2.50 to $10.00 per month. Most, however, received room, board, tobacco, clothing and medical attention as payment. They could stay until they were ready to re enter community life.
From the pages of The Sharp Park Breakers, April 3, 1942
The SRA Camp formerly housing single men on state relief was taken over by federal authorities. "Dangerous enemy aliens will be congregated for removal to Midwest "concentration camps" at a later date". The first group consisted of 200 aliens, one half of which was Japanese. Cyclone fencing of fine mesh wire was constructed and topped with barbed wire and floodlights. The camp can handle 600 inmates and can be equipped to handle two times as many with more bunks.
World War II Detention Center
"Sharp Park Detention Station (later referred to as Camp Sharp Park) was then opened in March 1942 by the INS, at the site of a former state relief camp 12 miles south of the city. A ten-foot high fence and additional barracks were built, increasing holding capacity from 450 to 1,200. The German, Italian, and Japanese immigrant detainees were held here temporarily, until sent on to more permanent facilities. On July 15, 1943, 119 Peruvian Japanese were also housed at the Station, but were soon sent on to Fort Missoula, Montana. Sharp Park closed in 1946."
From The National Archives:
"By the end of the war, over 31,000 suspected enemy aliens and their families, including a few Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, had been interned at Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) internment camps and military facilities throughout the United States. Some of these internment locations included Sharp Park Detention Station..."
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Japanese Americans in World War II Pages 75-76
Sharp Park Detention Facility - Pacifica, San Mateo County, California
Property Type: Places associated with detention
Located at a former state relief camp adjacent to the Sharp Park Golf Course, the Sharp Park INS camp began operations on March 30, 1942. The camp is included on the INS list of alien enemy detention sites and was the subject of a newspaper article from the period that indicates that it could hold up to 600 people.145 A December 1943 manifest
of Japanese relief goods on the exchange ship M.S. Gripsholm shows that a small amount of these goods was intended for Sharp Park, suggesting that Japanese nationals were interned there.146 Italian enemy aliens were also detained at Sharp Park “where Quonset huts had been hurriedly set up on a golf course. Some were held for as long as one year. Later, Italian prisoners of war were also held at Sharp Park.”147
145 “193 Aliens, Chiefly Japanese, Moved to Sharp Park Camp to Ease Immigration Station,” The San Francisco News, March 31, 1942; transcription at Museum of San Francisco website,
146 Weglyn, Years of Infamy, 176.
147 American Italian Historical Association, Western Regional Chapter,