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Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain


Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain Cover




Chapter 1

Where the Walls Speak

Alexander Weiss had just started his job as a California state park ranger on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay when he came across an old abandoned building. Off limits to the public, its windows boarded up, the two-story wooden structure stood dark and deserted behind a barbed wire fence. On an impulse, Weiss decided to venture inside and look around.

and#160;and#160;and#160;He pulled open the door. The floor creaked as he entered. The electricity had long since been turned off, so he found his way through the empty rooms and up the stairs with his flashlight, stepping over litter and broken glass. Paint was peeling from the walls and ceiling. The building smelled musty.

and#160;and#160;and#160;In a large room on the second floor, Weiss noticed markings that seemed to be carved into the walls. Moving closer, he saw that the marks appeared to be Chinese calligraphy, covered by a thin layer of chipped paint.

and#160;and#160;and#160;and#8220;I looked around and shined my flashlight up and I could see that the entire walls were covered with calligraphy, and that was what blew me away,and#8221; he remembered. and#8220;People had carved the stuff on every square inch of wall space, not just in this one room but all over.and#8221;

and#160;and#160;and#160;Although he couldnand#8217;t read the inscriptions, he recognized their historical importance. Angel Island had once been a busy immigration station, where people hoping to enter the United States were examined and questioned and often held for days or weeks or even months while immigration officials decided their fate. For many immigrants, Angel Island was the gateway to a new life in America. But for othersand#8212;those who were denied entry to the United Statesand#8212;it was a locked gate through which they caught just a glimpse of America before they were sent back to their native land.

and#160;and#160;and#160;While waiting for their cases to be decided, Chinese immigrants carved or painted row after row of poems on the walls of their detention barracks, telling of their long voyages from China, their confinement on the lonely island, their longing for families back home, their hopes, frustration, anger, and despair. And while Chinese were the most numerous immigrants to pass through Angel Island, immigrants from all over the world left wall inscriptions of various kinds in Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German, and English.

and#160;and#160;and#160;When Weiss reported his discovery, he was told that the calligraphy and other inscriptions were just and#8220;a bunch of graffitiand#8221; and to forget about them. The abandoned building was about to be torn down, part of the islandand#8217;s redevelopment as a state park.

and#160;and#160;and#160;But Weiss couldnand#8217;t forget. He felt so strongly about the historical importance of his discovery, he was willing to risk his job to help save the poems and inscriptions on the detention barracks walls. and#8220;Actually, I am also an immigrant,and#8221; he explained, and#8220;so I have an empathy with immigrants.and#8221;

and#160;and#160;and#160;Born in Vienna, Austria, Weiss had been brought to America as a four-year-old Jewish refugee when his parents fled from the Holocaust during World War II. and#8220;I didnand#8217;t discover the poems,and#8221; he insisted. and#8220;They had been there for years, and other people knew they were there. But I am proud of the fact that I was able to [help save them].and#8221;

and#160;and#160;and#160;He came across the poems on an afternoon in May 1970. When his superior told him not to bother with them, Weiss alerted George Araki, who had been his biology professor at San Francisco State College. The professorand#8217;s mother had come through Angel Island as a Japanese immigrant. Araki went to the island to see the poems for himself, and he had a photographer take pictures of every inch of wall that had inscriptions.

and#160;and#160;and#160;After araki showed the photos at a meeting of the Asian American Studies Department, students and faculty began to ride the ferry out to Angel Island to view the wall poems. and#8220;They were all young Asian American students,and#8221; Weiss recalled, and#8220;whose parents and grandparents had come through Angel Island, but they had no idea of this history because their parents would not talk about it.and#8221;

and#160;and#160;and#160;As word spread, activists in the Asian American community launched a campaign to save the Angel Asland Ammigration Station. and#8220;I really felt it in my bones that this was a story that needed to be told,and#8221; said journalist Chris Chow, and#8220;a historic landmark that needed to be saved.and#8221;

Product Details

Freedman, Russell
Clarion Books
Bial, Raymond
United States - 19th Century
Children s Nonfiction-US History
Military & Wars
immigration;immigrants;Chinese;Japanese;California history
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 4 up to 7
b+w photographs
9.5 x 9.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 9 up to 12

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Related Subjects

Children's » History » United States » General
Children's » Nonfiction » Social Issues » Emigration and Immigration
Children's » Nonfiction » US History
Children's » Nonfiction » World Cultures
Children's » People and Cultures
History and Social Science » Americana » General

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.99 In Stock
Product details 96 pages Clarion Books - English 9780547903781 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Freedman (Becoming Ben Franklin) details the fascinating and sometimes upsetting history of the 'Ellis Island of the West' as he examines Asian immigration to the U.S. at the start of the 20th century. The many Chinese immigrants who disembarked at Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay between 1910 and 1940 usually found it more detention than welcoming center. A thorough narrative, with personal vignettes and b&w archival photos, describes the taxing sea voyage from Asia, long detentions at the island, and intolerant attitudes endemic in America. Owing to strict exclusion laws for the Chinese (and later other Asian groups), thousands waited in cramped barracks for medical tests and stringent interviews. (Freedman also includes resistance stories of immigrants already settled in the country to these prejudicial laws, e.g., returning laundry to customers folded but still dirty.) Making this poignant account even more so are translated poems interspersed throughout, written by despairing detainees on barrack walls: 'Nights are long, the pillow cold; who can comfort my solitude?.... Shouldn't I just return home and learn to plow the fields?' A selected bibliography and index are included. Ages 9 — 12." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
An account of "the other Ellis Island"and#8212;Angel Island, California, the entry point for one million Asian immigrants in the early 20th century.
"Synopsis" by , In this clear and authoritative account, Russell Freedman illuminates for young readers the complex and rarely discussed subject of World War I, showing the ways in which the seeds of a second world war were sown in the first.
"Synopsis" by ,
Ellis Island, Americaand#8217;s most famous location in its history of immigration, was once a landfill in the upper bay of New York Harbor. Since its opening on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island has come to symbolize the waves of immigrants from a list of countries that seems endless. Although there were other immigration stations along the United Statesand#8217; shores between 1892 and 1924, half of the newcomers to the United States came through Ellis Island. Once a popular spot with picnickers, Ellis Island was purchased by a farmer in 1794. The government reclaimed the island and Ellis Island became the foremost station in immigration services. It was enlarged to six acres, and nearly twelve million people passed through its doors until it closed in 1954.

This is the story not only of the many Americans who first came to this country through Ellis Island but of Ellis Island itself.

"Synopsis" by , Nonfiction master Russell Freedman illuminates for young readers the complex and rarely discussed subject of World War I. The tangled relationships and alliances of many nations, the introduction of modern weaponry, and top-level military decisions that resulted in thousands upon thousands of casualties all contributed to the "great war," which people hoped and believed would be the only conflict of its kind. In this clear and authoritative account, the Newbery Medal-winning author shows the ways in which the seeds of a second world war were sown in the first. Numerous archival photographs give the often disturbing subject matter a moving visual counterpart. Includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.
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