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Arts and Entertainment

Exploring The Run-Down Terminal Island: A Japanese Community Disrupted By WWII

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A video from YouTuber Chris Orr meanders through the desolate streets of Terminal Island, once home to a Japanese American neighborhood that was uprooted after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Terminal Island lies between San Pedro and Long Beach and is owned by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. It partially a man-made island, as nearby Deadman's Island was blown up with dynamite in the 1920s and the rubble was used to create an build onto Terminal Island. Terminal Island was formerly called Rattlesnake Island.

Most infamously, the island was once inhabited by 3,500 Japanese Americans, who had their own robust culture, KPCC reports. They called community "Furusato," which would translate to "home sweet home" in English. Many of them worked in the fishing industry. After Pearl Harbor, however, the FBI rounded up all of the adult males and arrested them, and gave everyone else only 48 hours to evacuate. They were sent to the internment camp Manzanar and their neighborhoods were razed. After the war, the former residents did not return. There is a memorial on Terminal Island to Furusato that was erected in 2002. In 2012, there was a celebration of the memorial's 10-year anniversary.

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After displacing the Japanese Americans, the U.S. government then used the island during the war to build ships. This use is also seen as one of historical significance. The Long Beach Naval Shipyard was decommissioned in 1997.

In total, the island is 2,854 acres and had a population of 1,467 as of 2000. Of course, there is a minimum-security prison on the island with 970 inmates.

In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation called Terminal Island one of the Most Endangered Historic Places when the Port of Los Angeles sought to demolish some of the old buildings. The following year, the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners were able to take on a preservation plan for many of the buildings, and the National Trust declared Terminal Island saved in 2013 though, as you can see, much of the island seems pretty desolate. A blogger who visited the island in July did report one operational convenience store, in addition to a water treatment plant and a few marinas.