Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Tanforan
(Tanforan Assembly Center, Naval Advance Base Personnel Depot, San Bruno )
Camp Tanforan in World War I
During the initial stages of the mobilization for World War I, the Tanforan Racetrac was used as an assembly and trainig camo. The 1st and 2nd Californai Field Artillery Regiments (renamed 143rd and 144th Field Artillery Regiments at Camp Kearny) are known to have been mobilized at Camp Tanforan.
Camp Tanforan in World War II
Oblique aerial view of the Tanforan Assembly Center. (National Park Service)

The Tanforan Assembly Center was located at the Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, 12 miles south of San Francisco. Occupied from April 28 to October 13, the assembly center held 8,033 evacuees (with a maximum of 7,816 at a time) from the San Francisco Bay area. The assembly center had about 130 barracks, half within the racetrack infield. In addition, stables were used to house evacuees, as at Santa Anita. Most of those processed here went to the Central Utah Relocation Camp at Abraham, UT.

The racetrack, opened in 1899, burned down in 1964 and the area is now a shopping mall (Tanforan Mall). At the southwest entrance of the mall there is a large statue of a racehorse and jockey and a group of historical markers. One marker has a brief description of the racetrack and assembly center. Other markers commemorate the first airplane flight from a ship, the racehorse Seabiscuit, and an early developer.

Source: Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites


Army Corps of Engineers History

SITE NAME: Camp Tanforan. The site is now the Tanforan Park Shopping Center.

LOCATION: The site is located in the city of San Bruno, San Mateo County, CA approximately 7 miles south of the city of San Francisco, CA.

In April 1942, 118.00 leased acres were acquired from the Tanforan Company, Ltd. Additionally, in 17 April 1942 a no area license was acquired from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The total acreage acquired was 118.00. The site was used as a Japanese internment center. The site was initially used by the Navy before it was transferred to the Army.

The site was retransferred to the Department of the Navy on 1 March 1944 when the post became the Naval Advance Base Personnel Depot, San Bruno . The 118.00 leased acres were terminated on 10 October 1946. The records regarding restoration provisions are not complete.

The site is currently the Tanforan Park Shopping Center with major stores including Sears, J.C. Penney, and Firestone.

Source, Sacramento District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Camp Newspaper Map

Source, Sacramento District, US Army Corps of Engineers

Historical Status Card - Post, Camp, Station and Air Fields

Camp Tanforan Statistics


Army Units Assigned to Camp Tanforan

 Data Source


 Inspection Report  30 April 1942
749th Military Police Battalion (Zone of the Interior) (WDC)
Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Company A
 Army of the United States Station List 1 June 1943
749th Military Police Battalion (Zone of the Interior) (WDC)
Company D
AAF - Army Air Forces units AGF - Army Ground Forces ASF - Army Service Forces units WDC - Western Defense Command
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Updated 10 August 2017