Old NJ barracks used to house interned Japanese-Americans to be demolished
UPPER DEERFIELD, N.J., Sept. 28 — To assess what it meant for about 2,500 Japanese-Americans to live here in the 1940’s in cinder-block barracks and work seven days a week, 12 hours a day at a vegetable packaging and processing plant for 55 cents an hour, it is necessary to ask, “Compared with what?”
They came here during World War II to live and work at the Seabrook Farms complex from one of 10 internment camps for Japanese-Americans out West, where the routine was enforced idleness behind barbed-wire fences. So for many of them, this new life in Seabrook Village was, despite its rigors and its distance from their pre-war lives, ground in which to nurture a second chance at the American dream....
As the Japanese-Americans dispersed after the war, the barracks provided housing for successive waves of Italian, Estonian and black workers drawn here for jobs at Seabrook, then one of the nation’s largest producers of frozen vegetables. The barracks here in Cumberland County were later transformed into subsidized apartments for the poor and developed a reputation as a haven for drugs and violence.
But on Wednesday, a new chapter in the life of Seabrook Village will begin when the township and a private developer open the first phase of a 283-unit project of new, two- and three-story town houses on a section of the old complex. They have replaced a number of the low-slung barracks.
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