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Andrys Basten | profile | all galleries >> Angel Island Immigration Station - restored barracks tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Angel Island Immigration Station - restored barracks

Angel Island wall poemHi, thanks for visiting these photos.  If you didn't come here via the Intro-page, I hope you'll view first the Intro and Description of this gallery, as the text below involves primarily reference links for those interested in the history.   The text below is probably more readable if you "highlight" it by pressing Ctrl-A...

These are pictures from a day trip April 4 to Angel Island's newly restored Immigration Station and detention buildings for "aliens" (1910-1940) -- full public tours began April 1, 2009 -- along with context provided by the Angel Island group that has documented the history and restored the full detention center area at a cost of $16 million so far.  Budget cuts in 2011 may have an impact on access to this historic site.

Per videos from Angel Island park authorities (here's a FULL transcript of the official park video I saw), this historic gateway to the Pacific U.S. was designed and run to prevent Chinese, in particular, from becoming citizens (highlighted by the exclusionary law for Chinese only, 1882 to 1943), so that they were detained for 3 weeks average (instead of 2-3 days) to determine deportation or approval to stay, with some not allowed to leave the barracks for San Francisco for up to 2 years.  Some killed themselves here or on the boat back.  They were the only ethnic group not allowed citizenship without very narrow, strict requirements to be met and some experienced daily interrogations for months.

  Here's an excellent VIDEO of "...The Story Behind the Poems" aired on PBS.   The authorities were about to demolish the quarters in 1970 when a park ranger, Alexander Weiss (he's in this video), was inspecting it one night and saw poems written and carved on the walls by its detainees - expressions of individual feeling from people crowded in rooms with 3 levels of bunk beds close together and communal assembly-line commodes with no privacy areas.  There are "tens of thousands" of wall notes.  Some of these poems and writings are now part of the book: "Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940" (1980, revised 1999).  I think of these as part of an early message board.

  Don't miss this beautiful photo gallery of arrivees and interview rooms etc.

  I should have the full set of photos soon.

  Other EXCellent website articles (be sure to use also prime links above):
1) A historical perspective via a beautiful PDF with photos; 2) The Journey to America; 3) Life on Angel Island; 4) Restoration; 5) The Story of Chiu Yook Lon: A Paper Daughter on Angel Island ( plus an illustrated version; 6) Dong Kingman's ordeal as a citizen born here, when trying to return at age 18; 7) The Chinese in California: Topical Overview; 8) The Chinese Exclusion Act; 9) Exclusion case files; 10) Alleged Wife file; 11) Island Angels of America

  Excellent newspaper stories Feb '09: San Jose Mercury News; Walls that talk - LA Times; Guardian of the Western Gate; Ghosts linger; The power of poetry; Current photos of former detainees.

  OLD photos there:  Larger, for details; Interiors; Restored areas explained; Stages of work



*** ( For FULL SCREEN: PC's, press/toggle F11.  Mac's, maximize screen. ) ***

Leaving Tiburon on the Tiburon Ferry
Leaving Tiburon on the Tiburon Ferry
Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Used the little Canon A710's zoom here
Used the little Canon A710's zoom here
Making waves
Making waves
Looking over the stern, past the lower deck
Looking over the stern, past the lower deck
Enjoying the ride
Enjoying the ride
Enjoying the view from  the bow
Enjoying the view from the bow
Looking down at the action
Looking down at the action
Angel Island already..  It's just a 10-minute ride, tops
Angel Island already.. It's just a 10-minute ride, tops
Ferry' s wheel man.   Island's Admin bldg in view
Ferry' s wheel man. Island's Admin bldg in view
Just seeing what it was like in there.  I liked the reflections
Just seeing what it was like in there. I liked the reflections
An unbelievably gorgeous day
An unbelievably gorgeous day
The Immigration Station's old fog-warning bell, from shuttle
The Immigration Station's old fog-warning bell, from shuttle
Richard, on his first day as guide.  Very clear speaker.
Richard, on his first day as guide. Very clear speaker.
The bell, lost but found in a junkyard in San Diego (myth?)
The bell, "lost but found in a junkyard" in San Diego (myth?)
The Liberty Bell - from back of bell, facing detention barracks.
The Liberty Bell - from back of bell, facing detention barracks.
The newly restored main detention barracks
The newly restored main detention barracks
Informational display
Informational display
Ugly public words by an  Asst. Surgeon
Ugly public words by an Asst. Surgeon
About the detainees and the writings on the wall
About the detainees and the writings on the wall
About crowding, poor ventilation, and 'filthy' conditions.
About crowding, poor ventilation, and 'filthy' conditions.
Accordian-like, protected stairway to the barracks
Accordian-like, protected stairway to the barracks
Taking the first step on that interesting stairway
Taking the first step on that interesting stairway
The covered walkway connected to the former admin bldg.
The covered walkway connected to the former admin bldg.
The first view from inside, of the Freedom Bellappropriately out of focus
The first view from inside, of the "Freedom Bell"
appropriately out of focus
First object  I saw.   Globelike.   I've no idea what it was.
First object I saw. Globelike. I've no idea what it was.
Note by POW from Japan, upon his release
Note by POW from Japan, upon his release
3-level bunk beds.  Am trying Photoshop's newer b&w feature.
3-level bunk beds. Am trying Photoshop's newer b&w feature.
Same photo in normal color.  No mattresses were given detainees.
Same photo in normal color. No mattresses were given detainees.
Another barracks room, with a view outside through wire.
Another barracks room, with a view outside through wire.
Game table with usual items of the day
Game table with usual items of the day
With single cots as their only space, they air-dried their laundry.
With single cots as their only space, they air-dried their laundry.
Sad to realize what detainees went through, unlike Ellis Island visitors
Sad to realize what detainees went through, unlike Ellis Island visitors
2nd room in another area
2nd room in another area
Odd ceiling hole, I thought.
Odd ceiling hole, I thought.
Doors to washroom and office area
Doors to washroom and office area
The carvings were filled in with putty and painted over 6 or 7 times..
The carvings were filled in with putty and painted over 6 or 7 times..
I didn't expect to see baseball items there.
I didn't expect to see baseball items there.
The office
The office
Typewriter and phone from early 1900s
Typewriter and phone from early 1900s
A restroom with privacy, for staff. (see detainees' option later).
A restroom with privacy, for staff. (see detainees' option later).
Room No. 3
Room No. 3
A U.S. Army Cannon Heater in Sitting/Recreation Room
A "U.S. Army Cannon Heater" in Sitting/Recreation Room
Closer up, to see the lettering and little teapot better.
Closer up, to see the lettering and little teapot better.
Stereoscope viewer!
Stereoscope viewer!
Crowded and cluttered, but this was what they lived
Crowded and cluttered, but this was what they lived
Those on top bunks used the floor space for items also, of course.
Those on top bunks used the floor space for items also, of course.
Photography group
Photography group
Path to communal commodes
Path to communal commodes
Wash basins with no mirrors. Women's restroom.
Wash basins with no mirrors. Women's restroom.
No wasted space and no long waits
No wasted space and no long waits
First sighting of Wall Poem No. 69
First sighting of Wall Poem No. 69
In front of Wall Poem No. 69
In front of Wall Poem No. 69
Seen on the ferry boat's lower deck
Seen on the ferry boat's lower deck
Closer up for the texture
Closer up for the texture