I’d never been to San Bruno, CA until landing at SFO last Friday and transferring to the convenient and surprisingly nice Marriott Courtyard there.

Overall, I’d say San Bruno is left off the tourist itineraries with good reason… it’s mostly nondescript housing, under the flight path, and criss-crossed by freeways and railroad tracks.

And yet… getting off the BART train I was deposited into The Shops at Tanforan, a half-empty mall. And it turns out that the mall sits on the former site of Tanforan racetrack, which in turn was the main site used to stage the detention of San Francisco’s Japanese-descended people during WWII. From there, they were transported to the Topaz internment camp. In addition to this memorial, there’s a nice interpretive display in the BART station describing the internment and its legacy.

At some point before starting this blog, while trawling through the used books at a Salt Lake City thrift store I found a moderately rare book about the Topaz experience. I was able to donate it to the group that was raising funds for a Topaz museum, which has since opened.

And so, while San Bruno won’t be competing with Fisherman’s Wharf for tourist dollars anytime soon, there are more reasons to visit than I would have thought at first glance. I was glad to add another serendipitous link in my chain of places and stories.

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