WNP522 – Angel Island Immigration Station
Arnold: [00:00:00] It's Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of Western Neighborhoods Project. Your weekly dose of friendly neighborhood history.
And hello, Outside Landers. I am your host, Arnold Woods. That's right, no Nicole this week. We're doing a third straight interview podcast, and since Nicole was hogging those, I thought I'd steal this one from her.
So, you may have looked at the title of this podcast episode and thought to yourselves, I don't think Angel Island is really a part of the western neighborhoods. And you're right about that. But as it turns out, we discovered that many Angel Island roads lead back to San Francisco State University, and we felt that this discovery merited a podcast. Especially in light of Angel Island's Immigration Station Foundation's 40th anniversary, which was celebrated back in February of this year. So, the idea [00:01:00] to coordinate a podcast around this subject came to us after our friend, Professor, Professor Stephanie Brown and Nicole brought a group of museum study students from Johns Hopkins University to the island this past summer. And after wrangling all of our schedules, we, we're very honored to have three guests with us today. Not just one, but three. And they are Charles Egan, author of Voices of Angel Island and professor of Chinese in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at San Francisco State University, Casey Dexter-Lee, an interpreter at Angel Island State Park, and last but certainly not least, Russell Nauman, manager of operations and exhibits at the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. And I hope I pronounced your name right, Charles, or Russell, sorry.
Russell: Yeah, it was perfect. Yeah, thank you.
Arnold: Good. He's also a fairly recent graduate of the Museum Studies program at S.F. State. So [00:02:00] welcome everybody to the podcast.
Charles: Thanks very much. Thanks for having us.
Casey: Thank you.
Russell: Glad to be here.
Arnold: So, let's get started by getting some basic background about each of you. So, let me I guess start with you, Casey. How did you get into this?
Casey: So, I work for California State Parks and my first job with State Parks was on Angel Island. And so, I've actually worked and lived on the island for the last 23 years.
Casey: And lived here longer than anywhere else in my life. But to get to that point, you know, I grew up in Northern California, kind of split between the ocean and the mountains, and ended up at U.C. Santa Cruz. And I got a degree in history there, as well as a minor in education, which gave me the prerequisites I needed to get my first seasonal part-time job with [00:03:00] California State Parks, which required a four-year degree. And I started out here on the island running the overnight living history program where students come out for a 24-hour field trip experiencing some of the Civil War history, American Civil War history on the island.
Arnold: Let me just ask a quick question there.
Casey: And eventually shifted focus, yeah?
Arnold: Just like, are these students, are they high school, college, where are they from when they come out to the island?
Casey: The overnight program is geared to fourth and fifth graders. Because it's an immersive program, they dress up, they pretend to be living in the past. We try to have, you know, the Civil War without the death. So, we do have some basic safety things. We do wash our hands before we cook, so we don't get dysentery as they would have historically. But we…
Charles: They don’t pour gun powder in the guns.
Casey: No, yeah, we do, we do fire a reproduction cannon with black powder, but the kids generally don't [00:04:00] get to handle the explosives. But yeah, it's a great program. I was really fortunate to attend a similar immersive history program when I was a fifth grader. And fourth and fifth grade is kind of that magical time when yeah, you have enough understanding of the world to be able to comprehend these more complex concepts that we are introducing, but you're still young enough to play pretend and really get into, you know, those basic things of the past that maybe kids don't know how to do. Like haul water in a bucket from one place to another because there's no running water in the building or a lot of kids get their first opportunity to sweep a floor in our program. But they also bake, bake bread from scratch in a wood-fired oven and cook on a wood stove and they get to at home train in all these different areas. But that was my first job in the park and I would [00:05:00] occasionally work at the immigration station. I eventually became a permanent employee, but still working part-time, eventually full-time. And now I'm lucky enough to be in charge of the educational aspects of Angel Island State Park.
Arnold: That is so cool. I wish I had that kind of immersive experience when I was in fourth or fifth grade. So next Russell, what got you into the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation? What's your background getting you there?
Russell: Yeah so, I am a person that grew up without museums in my little hometown of Tennessee. Like in Tennessee, we didn't have museums. So, I really didn't have a good experience until I had moved out to college and was down living in Orlando and started working for museums back in 2004. So, I fell in love and I've probably worked for a dozen different museums and non-profits throughout Florida, Southern California and till I moved up here in [00:06:00] 2018. When I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, I was a volunteer on Alcatraz and I was a volunteer gardener taking care of the landscape there. And someone had mentioned the immigration station, which I wasn't familiar with at the time. And it just so happened that they were looking for somebody to work for the foundation. So, we are the non-profit arm of California State Parks as it relates to the immigration station. So, we are the chief like fundraisers and we help with programming and exhibits out at the site. But I joined in 2018 and have been here ever since.
Arnold: The foundation sounds a little bit like the relationship between the Presidio Trust and the Presidio. Is that kind of a similarity there?
Russell: Well, it's a non-profit supporting this government entity. So, I've worked for another organization that was [00:07:00] sort of like a public-private partnership. But yeah, we do all the things that State Parks can't. So, and part of what our organization has done is fundraised and helped in the restoration and saving of the site. So, for the last 40 years, that's what the foundation has done.
Arnold: Nice. So, finally Charlie how did you get involved with Voices of Angel Island and what's your history getting you to this space?
Charles: Well, it's taken me quite a few years to get to this, to get to this place. I don't know how many more years it will take me to get back out again. I am, I got into Asian studies actually starting with in high school. Otherwise hadn't, had no, you know, I had no early interest in it, but I was an exchange student in Bangkok when I was in high school and was really just, you know, it was a, really quite a life changing experience. So, then I got into Chinese studies when I started college and learned language first. And then spent [00:08:00] over the years, a total of four years in Taiwan, two years in Hong Kong, and it was only after that point that I went back to graduate school, and I got into classical Chinese literature. And most of my research publications I've been in, like, the evolution of poetic forms, Buddhist poetry in China and the like. The, and I've been at San Francisco State since 2000, so 23 years, just like Casey's been at the island, and we've known each other pretty much most of that time. You know, Casey and I do a lot of like tag team tours and lectures out at the Angel, out at Angel Island, which has been a lot of fun. Now, I got into the Angel Island topic because, going back to 2003, I think it is, or 2000, 2003, 2004, when, when the renovations of the building were being done, a lot of that was physical renovations that was overseen by the architectural resources group in San [00:09:00] Francisco. But they also had, as part of that, they put together a little consulting group and there were four of us, all of whom had, Chinese language and literature backgrounds. And we were asked basically, you know, to look at the walls and see what's there. Now, you know, Angel Island, you know, as Casey and Russell will elaborate was pretty much saved because the poetry is on the walls. And, you know, the place was slated to become, to be torn down, and then they were going to use the site as a campground, as State Parks was.
Arnold: Let me just quickly ask you, because I think it's obvious to probably to all of us, but maybe not to some of the listeners to this podcast, but the, Angel Island was the primary immigration point for Chinese coming into America at that time, is that correct?
Charles: Yes, but not just Chinese.
Charles: You know, it was the immigration station for the port of San Francisco. [00:10:00]
Arnold: And for Asian countries coming, immigrants coming from there.
Charles: Yeah, or anybody coming across the Pacific. So, so there were quite a lot of Russians, for example. Because the, because the you know, the Trans Siberian Railway was already open. And the Russians had also helped with the construction of the northeast lines of the Chinese railroads. So the, so that Harbin was pretty, Harbin in China, which was pretty much of a Russian city. So, so quite a lot of people, you know, people from any nationality, could have ended up in Angel Island that came through San Francisco. Only a subsection of people who came in were then sent to Angel Island, usually because there were somehow problems with their papers. Now, with Chinese immigrants, pretty much just because they were Chinese, they had problems, because they were, because the Exclusion, the Exclusion Act was already in place. But, you know, before, before getting ahead of [00:11:00] ourselves, this is, like, Casey's gonna talk about the history of things some more, I was sort of, I wanted to say how I got into this project.
Charles: And, you know, the, it's the poetry that saved the island. And then what really put it on the map is a book by Him Mark Lai, Judy Yung, and Genny Lim called Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910 to 1940. Which includes 135 poems, many of which can still be found on the walls, and then also oral histories. And that's a real classic, a classic in sort of Asian-American studies, Chinese-American, the Chinese-American experience. So, when we were doing this project, consulting project in the early 2000s, we were asked first to find out where on the walls the island poems were, and then to find out, to determine whether there were other poems there. And to determine what [00:12:00] else was there, you know, and what we found, you know, at that point, it was only, it was, we only had about a year to do this project. So, so our conclusions were all quite preliminary, but we found, we found probably 80% of the poems that were from the book Island. But then we found a whole bunch of other Chinese poems that had never been studied before and we also found inscriptions in, in multiple languages, Russian, Spanish, you know, Bengali, Urdu, Gurmukhi script from the Punjab and so on. And so, so, you know, it was pretty clear there was a lot of stuff there that had not really been shown to the public before. So, after this consulting period was over, you know, I was just intrigued by the whole project and I love deciphering things anyway. It's like, you know, it's like, like doing a little, like, puzzles and things like that. So, so I kept working on the project for many years after that, when I had time, trying to decipher more stuff from the walls and then [00:13:00] research what I could find and found, you know, there's another 40 or 50 poems that were not previously published, that are in my book, in Chinese, as well as inscriptions by immigrants from Japan, Korea, Russia, and other places. And also, immigrants from, not immigrants, excuse me, but, but prisoners during the World War II period, right?. So, so, you know, so it was a long experience, as Casey can attest. My book just came out in 2021, and then the paperback came out in 2022. So, you know, that sort of tells you the number of years that I've spent on the project.
Arnold: Well, that's excellent. And it's, I'm thankful to meet all of you to talk about this today. So, let's get into it. And we will start with Casey and we're going to talk, you're going to talk about the history of Angel Island and how it got to, from its beginnings to today, and take [00:14:00] it away, Casey.
Casey: Thank you. So, Angel Island is an amazing place. It's such a diverse story here. And it's part of the reason I've worked here so long is because I continue to learn. There's more than a lifetime's worth of things to learn on Angel Island. And, and I think that's also, you know, why Charlie got hooked. And Russell's a little newer, he's been here for a few years, but he's hooked too. I can tell already. And so, the first people to live here, of course, are the Coast Miwok. They live on the island, coming back and forth in small boats from the Tiburon Peninsula. Today, the Coast Miwok people are known as the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, which is a tribe made up of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo people. Obviously, the lives of those first island residents changed dramatically when the Spanish arrived in the Bay in [00:15:00] 1775. They named Angel Island, Isla de Los Angeles, and forgive my Spanish, I'm not a Spanish speaker, but that was anglicized to Angel Island, named after a feast day in August when they arrived.
And the island was used for many different purposes in that kind of shorter modern history. It was a cattle ranch during the Spanish and Mexican eras. It became a military post as early as 1863, with folks here protecting San Francisco Bay from potential Confederate attack or foreign attack. There were concerns about that as well here on the West Coast. And about half the people in California supported the Union effort and half supported the Confederacy. So, they were worried about insurrection as well. So, Fort Point, Fort Alcatraz, Camp Reynolds on Angel Island all helped in the physical [00:16:00] protection of the Bay. And the gold being shipped from California to the East coast was another potential target as well. The military stayed here, the Army stayed here, pretty much until 1962, so about 99 years. There's a little gap after World War II, so there's no Korean War history on Angel Island. But every major conflict the United States has been involved with has connections to Angel Island from 1863 to 1962. So, the Nike missile site was the last military presence on the island.
We also had a U.S. quarantine station on Angel Island from the 1890s to the 1940s. So, any ships that arrived in San Francisco Bay, busiest port on the West coast, would be diverted to the island if there was illness aboard. And so, on the north side of Angel Island actually, where current ferries drop off visitors to the park, was the quarantine [00:17:00] station and that area had about 50, 60 buildings. Today, there's four historic buildings standing from that time. And one of them is our visitor center that I'm actually speaking from today. And the quarantine station was a little bit of an inspiration to have the immigration station here, which opened in 1910 and closed in 1940. Construction started…
Arnold: Before you move on to the immigration station, I was just wondering the, for the boats that came there because of illness, did they, like, how big a boat could come there? Did they have deep enough waters where they could get really big boats or were these restricted to smaller boats?
Casey: They would send the bigger boats here, because they would also work on decontamination of the vessel and the, the objects on board as [00:18:00] well. So, visitors, or excuse me, people coming in on those ships would be housed in lots of separate buildings. The vessels would be near, just off of Point Ione, which is near Ayala Cove, where the ferries land today, it's about 200 feet deep in Raccoon Straits, the water between Angel Island and the Tiburon Peninsula. So, there's potential to have large ships be in that area. They had, of course, smaller boats they would use to move people in and out if they needed to, but they had a kind of a defunct ship, the Omaha, that they used the steam engines from to create steam to decontaminate the large vessels. And they also used all kinds of other things that would kill mostly the rats and insects aboard, like cockroaches. And so, they're, you know, [00:19:00] scary things like cyanide. And the workers would have to come aboard the ship and make sure that it was clear before they could let go people come on to the ship and use it again. And they would wear gas masks and bring small animals in cages to make sure that the spaces had been cleared of the poisons that they were using at the time.
Arnold: The canary in the coal mine.
Casey: Yeah, yeah. They were lots of, there's an image of, they almost look like the Ghostbusters, right? They're completely clad in all of this gear to protect them from going on the ship, and they're holding small cages with looks like white mice or rats in them. And there were some deaths of workers going into spaces where thing the air had not cleared. So, it was a dangerous job to do that. And that was run by the basically precursor to Public Health, the Marine Hospital Service. And they have a connection [00:20:00] to the immigration station as well, because there was a medical component to screening immigrants that were coming into the United States as well. So, the hospital that is at the immigration station was run by that same Marine Hospital Service. And if patients needed additional care that, or isolation that couldn't be provided at the immigration station, they'd be sent over to what is now Ayala Cove, it was historically Hospital Cove, and the one person in particular, one, we believe the woman that was detained the longest at the immigration station from, she was from China, was exposed to smallpox while she was at the immigration station and was sent over to the quarantine station to the smallpox shed, which was the area they would send people who'd been exposed. Obviously, this is, you know, quite some time ago. There weren't many effective treatments for many of [00:21:00] the illnesses that people were being exposed, or had been exposed to. She luckily did not develop smallpox and was, did not become sick. So, eventually she was allowed to enter the country, but she was here for over two years.
Casey: And that is not the typical experience. The more typical detention experience at the immigration station is two to three days, unless you happen to be Chinese. And for Chinese immigrants, the average stay is three to three and a half weeks. And that's a little bit of a false average, because most Chinese immigrants that were here were detained two to three days, or three, three and a half months. It was kind of one or the other. There weren't a lot of in between.
Arnold: What was the difference between why somebody would be there two to three days or three months?
Casey: For Chinese immigrants, the two to three days is kind [00:22:00] of typical processing that a lot of other groups were experiencing as well. And, and passing your initial entry hearing. If you failed your entry hearing, which 50% of Chinese immigrants did fail, you could appeal. And most people, when they appealed, had to stay detained. Some folks were offered the opportunity to post a bond and be able to leave Angel Island. But most were not allowed to do that. And so, they had to stay detained while they went through the appeals process.
Arnold: Do we know why so many Chinese immigrants would fail this process in the, at the beginning?
Casey: Because they had a different process than everyone else. The anti-Chinese laws at the time, initially the first Chinese Exclusion Act passes in 1882. It's extended [00:23:00] multiple times for 10 years at a time, until it becomes basically indefinite. Ultimately repealed in 1943, but the entire Angel Island facility operation was under the Chinese exclusion era and later other anti-Asian laws as well. So there's, the super short answer is racism. And the anti-Chinese movement in California and the United States sees Chinese laborers as a threat to quote, unquote, “American workers,” really meaning white workers, and they pass, you know, labor unions and basically back these anti-Chinese laws, putting pressure on politicians. The politicians pass laws to exclude Chinese laborers. Now, right, sometimes people try to argue that, it was about labor rather than being Chinese. And if it really was about labor, [00:24:00] it would have been the anti, it would have been a labor exclusion, right? It was a very specific group of laborers that were trying, the U.S. was trying to exclude. And this law applied to you whether you were from China or not. If you were born In France and had Chinese ancestry and came to the United States during this time period, you were Chinese under the law. So, this really was about your ancestry, where those ancestors were from and not so much about where you were from. You could even come from areas that were U.S. territories, like the Philippines, and if you had Chinese ancestry, could potentially be excluded under this law. Whereas other Filipinos were considered American nationals. So, these race-based laws are being enforced at the immigration station here and folks are going through the process.
So, there were exceptions to the Chinese Exclusion Law. So [00:25:00] all Chinese immigrants coming in needed to find a way to be in one of those categories, common categories that people use, well, diplomats is one that is an exception, but that's not something that would have been common. But tourists, merchants, child of an American citizen, teacher. So the child of citizen is the one that a lot of people were coming under. And this is a pretty small group of people, because in addition to excluding Chinese workers with the exclusion laws, it also stripped citizenship from all Chinese-Americans. So, the exclusion laws took away any citizenship of those that had naturalized. And so, there weren't a lot of Chinese-Americans. Part of that is there weren't a lot of Chinese women in the United States at this time. So not a lot of Chinese-Americans being born here. And laws that said you couldn't marry someone that [00:26:00] didn't look like you, so there wasn't a lot of marriage between different groups. And so, this is a pretty small group of people that are Chinese-American. And even those born here had to fight for their right to be called American. Which is the case of Wong Kim Ark that goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which helps establish that birthright citizenship that we still have today.
And so, when folks are coming in, a lot of people don't fit into one of those categories. And so, some people would find a way into one of those categories. And so, we call people who claim to be children of American citizens, paper sons or paper daughters, because they're related on paper and not necessarily in real life or the relationship is shifted. It might be that you're coming in pretending to be [00:27:00] your uncle's son or something like that. So, these papers become a black market. It's about a hundred dollars for every year of life you claim. So, if you're ten years old, it costs about a thousand dollars to get these papers that might allow you to get into the country.
Arnold: And then, what time frame is that? Because that's a lot of money, you know, a hundred years ago.
Casey: Yeah. Yes. Yeah, this is about 100 years ago. So, more on the order of, you know, $20 or $30,000. Although I haven't recalculated that with the recent inflation. So, it's probably even a little higher. And so, this is not something that a lot of people are able to do. But even if you couldn't necessarily afford that money up front, you might come in with the promise of working and repaying a debt. We see people coming in, we believe more frequently as paper [00:28:00] sons and paper daughters after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. And that's because the birth records were one of the things destroyed in the earthquake and fires that followed. And the destruction of those records created a, an opportunity for people to claim citizenship. And so, when the city's reestablishing records, people are coming forward that may or may not have had papers before. And, you know, they say, oh, my, my records were destroyed. And so, they get these new papers that say they were born here and they write down, you know, the names of their children so that they can come. And one of the ways we know just statistically that people were exaggerating the number of children, is that it's something [00:29:00] like nine out of 10 children reported were male. Which is statistically…
Casey: I'll say, unlikely. But so, it wasn't that kind of 50-50 split that is a little more natural. But they had, you know, all of these boys or sons that were being claimed, and basically all of those identities could be sold to people who wanted to come. And so, as kind of a consequence, they were already in the process of planning an immigration station on Angel Island as early as 1905. And the construction was even delayed because of the ‘06 earthquake. But the, prior to Angel Island's facility, once exclusions started, people being detained were held on the ships they were traveling on. There was no place for them to go to be held and [00:30:00] so, when that ship had to move on to another port, those being detained would be moved to another ship and they were basically just playing musical chairs on these ships. Eventually, detainees were put into the Pacific Mail steamship shed and that was on the San Francisco waterfront. Really a building designed to hold boxes and not people. So, there were a lot of health concerns. The immigration service had concerns about people escaping, people communicating, passing notes, and things like that. So, they thought it would be a good idea to have an immigration station on Angel Island. You already had the quarantine facility here, so it would allow for the medical aspects of the screening that they wanted to do.
The military was, of course, still here on Angel Island at that time as well. They were not excited about an immigration station coming in to, [00:31:00] basically next door to their military facility. But they did prevail. The immigration station was built and opened in 1910. And January of 1910, the first immigrants who happened to be from China were detained here. And so, for those 30 years of operation, the facility's job was to determine who was allowed in and who was not.
And for many Chinese immigrants, that came down to an entry hearing and the entry hearing process for board of special inquiry, basically, you know, what you would expect. There's someone asking questions. There's someone translating. There's someone writing down that information in transcripts that, some of which are still available to look out in the National Archives in San Bruno. So, if folks do have family that they think came through the immigration station, or they want to do research on this topic, the National Archives, [00:32:00] those, that local branch is a great place to connect with. You do need to make an appointment though. Don't just show up. And those entry hearings, particularly for Chinese immigrants, become very detailed. Because the American officials suspect that people are not telling the truth about who they are, the basic questions get real detailed. And so, they're trying to compare the immigrants’ information with, typically, a relative, often the father, or as they would put it in the paperwork, alleged father. And they would ask the same questions and compare how the two individuals answered. And so, if those answers match, if you know how many windows are in your house or how many chickens your neighbor has, or the birth dates and death dates of your grandparents and your great grandparents, where the well is located in your village, you might [00:33:00] pass. And those were questions that people were asked.
Arnold: So, I mean, who, who's deciding this? Is there a judge or a council that is presiding over these hearings?
Casey: So, yeah, there's two inspectors from the Immigration Service and they determine if they believe the person or not. And they initially had one inspector at these hearings, but there was some corruption. People were being bribed and there was some lawyers that were, I believe, bribing for favorable outcomes for their clients, but also bribing for unfavorable outcomes for people who weren't their clients to drive people to them. And that led to a second inspector being present at the hearings and either, you know, out of the hope that someone would be above [00:34:00] board and wouldn't accept a bribe, or that it would just become, you know, financially unprofitable to try and bribe two people. But if there were two inspectors and they disagreed on the outcome, the stenographer, she would, often women, would be kind of the tiebreaker in the situation.
Arnold: That's unusual.
Casey: Yes, the, but there was, so again, 50% of the people coming from China are failing this entry hearing and going into, typically almost all Chinese immigrants would appeal deportation. This is a really key factor because Indian immigrants that came through also failed at a similar rate, about 50%. But almost all Indian immigrants were deported because they didn't typically appeal. And this might have to do with kind of a longer history in the United States at that point for the Chinese community. In larger numbers, Chinese immigrants have been [00:35:00] coming to the United States since the gold rush in California, so 1849. And, well, I guess, yeah, we were a United States then, but not a state. But so, we see folks very early on being discriminate, discriminated against through local ordinances and laws, county, state, and the Chinese community began fighting against that discrimination in the court system. And so, as a community had perhaps a better understanding of the American legal system, but also an understanding that you needed a lawyer, lawyers weren't necessarily allowed to talk to their clients at the immigration station that were being detained, but they could file on their behalf and therefore give the opportunity to get a different set of eyes on these circumstances. So initial appeals would go to Washington, D.C. within the immigration service. [00:36:00] And then it could go into the court system after that. Some cases could go to the Supreme Court. And those appeals, even at the Washington level for immigration service, they would often look at the records and, you know, there's things like a case where a 12-year-old was asked hundreds of questions and the inspectors looked at it and said, well, he, of course, he made a mistake. You asked him hundreds of questions. Or they’d look at…
Arnold: And he is 12 years old.
Casey: Yeah, and he's 12-years-old. And, or they'd look at the photographs of people and compare them to family members and say, well, she looks just like her father. Like, clearly they're related. So, the appeals were typically successful and ultimately less than 10% of Chinese immigrants were deported. And again, in contrast to those Indian immigrants not appealing, basically having a 50% deportation rate. Most other groups, Japanese [00:37:00] most Europeans, their deportation rate is more on par with what's going on at Ellis Island at the same time of about 2-3%. And that could be, you know, a medical condition or some, they did have literacy tests as well during this time. There's, you know, you could be deported for mental health, physical health, disability. So, and you could be deported for being poor, likely to become a public charge or LPC was another common way to deport people. Indian immigration has a lot of this happening at Angel Island. There's inspectors that were saying that because of the discrimination against any Indian immigrants in this area, that they would have a difficult time finding work, which would make them likely to become a public charge. [00:38:00] Which meant they deported them because of discrimination. So, it was kind of this self-fulfilling loop in that case where people discriminate against you, so we're going to discriminate against you.
Arnold: So, this is some incredible history, but what, I guess, brought about the end of the immigration station on Angel Island?
Casey: So, specifically, a fire. There was a fire that destroyed the main administration building at the site. That building also housed women and children that were being detained, on the second floor. Or, but it had the dining areas for different groups. There was racial segregation at the site. They had the rooms where the hearings would happen as well as areas to kind of, separate groups out as they arrived by, by boat. So that fire is, it's an accidental electrical fire. It's definitely the straw that broke the camel's back. They, the immigration officials never really [00:39:00] wanted to be on Angel Island. They found it very inconvenient because witnesses had to come out by boat. The majority of their staff had to come out by boat. There was a small staff that stayed on the island that did the more day-to-day jobs, the gardeners, the cooks, the launderers. But most of the inspectors and, you know, witnesses and things are going to, are going back and forth by boat every day. As someone who lives on Angel Island, I can tell you that would be inconvenient, to have to go back and forth every day. That's why we live here now. Makes it a lot easier to do the day-to-day operations of an island facility.
But that fire happens in August of 1940. By the end of the year, immigrants have all basically left the island. They're temporarily detained at 801 Silver Avenue, which is an elementary school today. And we actually have students from that school that come out every year, and they are very well versed in [00:40:00] their connection to the history here. And then, they go to Sansome Street, which is still an immigration building today, but no longer a detention facility. And there's actually one immigrant that we have met, a former detainee that was detained on Angel Island, deported, immigrated again or attempted to immigrate again, was detained at Sansome Street, and then was allowed to enter the country. And so, when we, he was asked when we took a tour of Sansome Street, I got to go with them, it was really an amazing experience, and he was asked which place he liked better. Which detention facility he liked better. And he said Angel Island was nicer. But he liked Sansome Street better because they let him in.
Arnold: That, yeah, I can understand that. Before we move on, is there anything else about the immigration station there that you think we should know?
Charles: Could I…
Casey: Well, I would say, [00:41:00] oh, go ahead, Charlie.
Charles: I just wanted to add one thing, because, you know, the, that, you know, the immigration station was 1910 to 1940, but then, when the administration building burned down, it was turned over to the Army, cause Fort McDowell was just up the road. And so, it became the North Garrison to Fort McDowell. And that, and then, it was used throughout World War II and even after World War II. During World War II, it was used, beginning in about 1940, late ‘41, early ’42, first to, to house, it was used to house Japanese Issei who were arrested after Pearl Harbor in, in Hawaii. It was, you know, Angel Island was never used for the, for the West coast Japanese internment. But the, the Issei from Japan, several groups of them did go through Angel Island and left some inscriptions on the walls. And then, POWs then became, came in, including the very first POW taken in [00:42:00] the war, who was a pilot of a midget submarine at Pearl Harbor. And so, it was used throughout the World War. At beginning, many of the POWs were from the north Africa campaign. So, there were Germans, some Italians, I think, too. But then, you know, over time, then it really became mostly for Japanese POWs. And there were still about 200 Japanese POWs there at the end of the war. And then, post-war, this, the station was also used for repatriating Japanese POWs to Japan. So, so there, and there are inscriptions on the walls by all of these groups, you know, that are really quite fascinating material.
Arnold: Right. So, Casey, any last words on the immigration station.
Casey: I'll just say that the building kind of left, was left unused mainly after World War II, abandoned. The early park history [00:43:00] here, California State Parks got a small part of the island in 1954, and in pieces until 1963, the entire island was a park by then, and the idea of this park was created to have a recreational space, outdoor space. People can connect with nature, right? By this time, it's, you know, the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. The idea is to get people outside. There wasn't an emphasis or even an idea of preserving the historic aspects of the park, except for the buildings that might be useful for, you know, visitors. So, by 1970, as was alluded to earlier, the California State Park's plan for the immigration site was to get rid of these old abandoned buildings and have these camping and picnicking areas. That part of the island has some of the best weather, it's on the leeward side of the island, it's usually sunnier and less windy [00:44:00] there.
And there was a ranger working here at the time, we say Alexander Weiss. Many people that, that knew him as Alex, he would, they constantly say, he was never Alexander. But right, as people go into history, they get a little more formal, I think. But so, Alex Weiss worked here at the time. He actually was a student at San Francisco State and he had seen the writing on the walls. He was not the only person that had seen the walls on the detention barracks or the writing on the walls. And so, he starts talking to some folks at, on campus and it's right around the time when the Asian Studies Department is created. And so, he talks to some professors. They start having kind of these informal field trips with students out to the park. And those students, some of which can read the poems, some you know, can't. But some of them go [00:45:00] home and talk to their parents about this place called Angel Island that they visited. And for some of those students, it was the first time their parents admitted to having been detained at Angel Island. And so, for a lot of these Chinese-American, you know, college students and Asian-American college students, they saw, they had the vision that maybe the parks didn't have at that moment, of what this place meant and what should happen with it. And so, they created basically the precursor to what is now the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. And they got, and I really like to emphasize this, they got the State of California to change its mind. Which is no small task.
Arnold: Not at all.
Casey: And now that, that site is a national historic landmark. So, it's recognized at a federal level for its significance to U.S. [00:46:00] history and, you know, great efforts have gone into saving, preserving, and sharing the stories of the immigration station. And that could not have happened without those San Francisco State students, without the committees and organizations that were born out of it. And I can't sound biased because all of the sites in the park are equally important, but also, I do have my favorites and I'll just leave it at that.
Arnold: And that's a really good segue into talking to Russell about the foundation itself, how it got started and made this all happen. So Russell, tell us about that.
Russell: Yeah. So, it really did start with Alex Weiss reaching out to his professor George Araki. He was a professor of biology at S.F. State. And it was about four short years of this interest growing in the site, that, in 1974, [00:47:00] the organization kind of came together and was formed as the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee. Which was formed to give California State Parks recommendations about what to do with the site. At the time, they had already started demolition of some of the buildings. There were scheduled burns with the fire department. So, some buildings were lost and they knew there was a sense of urgency to save the detention barracks at least, because of the poetry that they found inside and it was this important, you know, first person historical record of what it was like coming to the United States. These poems were carved into the walls. Some are written in pencil. Well, I would say the other inscriptions were written in pencil. Most of the poems are carved. And they were left along the walls. So, there was a move in [00:48:00] 1976, where Governor Brown signed appropriations of $250,000 for the restoration of that building of the barracks.
Arnold: Do we know, in terms of any of the buildings that were lost, whether they contained any of this poetry inscribed on the walls?
Russell: The only place that we would know that poetry existed besides the detention barracks would have been inside the administration building that burned in 1940. We do have oral histories from former detainees that talk about the women's dormitories having the same types of inscriptions in there. Not really clear if that was poetry. So, Dr. Egan might be able to step in and correct me if I'm wrong, but they do recall seeing inscriptions along the walls there. So that was lost, but it wasn't due to the burns that were in the 1970s. There was a series of 12 cottages that were built by Julia Morgan on the island. [00:49:00] And a, surprising connection, she was the sister-in-law to the first immigration commissioner. So, he gave her the contract to build employee housing out there. And those were among the casualties of just removing these dilapidated buildings from the island. There was no, you know, apparent use for them in this future plan, but saving the barracks was the biggest step.
But in doing so, sort of the demolition was paused for a lot of the other buildings. So, the powerhouse is still there. The hospital is still out there. There was a former mule barn that still exists at the site. It's, in total, that's 14.3 acres of land that there was a series of buildings still existing out there. But it was all this side work besides what my organization was doing at the time, where it was Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, you know, studying the poetry and actually providing translations [00:50:00] for the poems that made that more accessible to the general public. Because otherwise it would be something that only the Chinese-American community could care for. Now we have translations that you can share with other people. Felicia Lowe did interviews with former detainees and put out a video called carved in silence. That told the history of Angel Island. Judy Yung and Him Mark Lai and Genny Lim also interviewed former detainees and former residents that used to live on the island about their experiences.
So, like, capturing these stories in that moment, really bolstered this effort that they were moving towards to save the site. But the building was. finally restored and open for the first time in 1983, which it was only the first floor of the barracks, but that was the same year that we became incorporated as an organization as the Immigration Station Foundation. And it's been, [00:51:00] you know, slow building public advocacy and raising money for the site over the last 40 years. You know, since 1994, we've raised $40 million dollars for the site, which has gone into upgrades over the years and, 2007 to 2009, they renovated the barracks and were able to open the second floor. They did a site interpretation out of the lawn. So, there's outdoor exhibits. And, you know, as of 2022, we just opened our second museum at the site, which is in the former hospital building. Yeah.
Arnold: And how do, if somebody wants to come visit the museum and the places there, how do they go about setting it up.
Russell: So it's just a visit to California State Parks. The buildings are open Wednesday through Sundays. California State Parks is the steward of the site and [00:52:00] those are the faces that you see when you actually go. And you can take a ferry from Tiburon or San Francisco, from the San Francisco Ferry Building that will take you out there. But still, when you land at Ayala Cove, it's another 1.2 miles to get to the site. So, there is a tram and shuttle service that will take you around the island and take you to different places. So there's, you know, easy and convenient ways to get to the immigration station, although it does end up being like a half day journey just to get out there. But…
Casey: I will say the shuttle is still, so if that is something you need for your visit. Definitely check in with our websites and our concessionaires. We can give you all those websites at the end if you like, but the, in the winter it's a hiking situation for sure.
Charles: Yeah, I just like to say that I really like the walk. It's really pleasant. You climb up the hill to the ring road and then you [00:53:00] get these great views, you know, of the Richmond-Berkeley sort of side of Angel Island.
Russell: Yeah. I mean, the walk is amazing. It's actually kind of one of my favorite things when I get to go there. And if I'm not carrying items with me, I like to take the walk. But I'm typically asking Casey to drive me to the site because I'm hauling like a cart full of things. We are continually involved in like the activities of the site. We just recently held our gala, our 40th anniversary gala earlier this year at the site. And lit it up at night, which was really nice. We do family day type events on the island. But we are really supporting, you know, the site and the site's history.
I would say going back to 2010, we began a project called Immigrant Voices and Immigrant Voices was meant to preserve those stories of people who came through Angel Island. But we're also [00:54:00] making a broader connection to immigrants today. And those stories went into the development of the exhibits in the hospital, which is now called the Angel Island Immigration Museum. So, we want to tell a more whole story of immigration, not just on Angel Island, but how do those stories continue to evolve today? And one of the projects that we're working towards is doing an Immigrant Voices 2.0 in a, where we are doing storytelling workshops to tell people how they can tell their story. And those stories are getting incorporated to future upgrades at the site. So, when we develop exhibits, those are the stories that we look towards to be used in displays. And we will have this whole redevelopment of our Immigrant Voices website, where you're going to see videos of people talking about their immigration experiences. It's this sense of [00:55:00] belonging that we are trying to nurture among people that you, coming into the United States, you walk into this political atmosphere of, you know, feeling like the outsider. And I think we are in a position being so connected to the community that we can help lift up those stories and make sure that people have the sense of belonging.
Arnold: And, I mean, here at the WNP, funding is always an issue with us. What does the foundation do to get funding, and is, if somebody wants to contribute, how do they go about doing so?
Russell: Yeah. We do a lot of grant writing for larger site improvement projects. And we have been pretty successful at raising funds for a couple projects that haven't come yet. Which we have this new one called Pathways to Immigration, which is going to be a site improvement project where people will be able to memorialize their family's name at the site. So that [00:56:00] will be an opportunity for people to contribute to the foundation and the foundation's work while also memorializing their family at the site. But we recently received a million dollars from assembly member Phil Ting for rebuilding two of the employee cottages that were there. So those are future sites of interpretation. But we are so fortunate to have the support of, you know, our donors for the last 40 years. We really have done a lot with small dollar donations. And a lot of those small dollar donations went into the renovation of the hospital and the development of the exhibits at the hospital. And for people that want to donate, they can go to our website, which is aiisf.org, and there is a section where you can donate. And for people that do donate, we have a virtual tribute wall. So, if you're donating in memory or in honor of somebody that is close to you, [00:57:00] a family member, or maybe someone who came through Angel Island, we try to memorialize those by putting those names on our website.
Arnold: That’s great. And I’m so happy that the Foundation is doing that work. But let's get into probably the most amazing thing there, and that's this poetry on the walls and the inscriptions. So, Charles, tell us about the Voices of Angel Island.
Charles: Oh, sure. I'd love to. You know, as we were, as I think Casey mentioned earlier, you know, the station was segregated by race and ethnicity. And that includes the barracks. So, so if you look, the barracks building has two very large rooms what, they're on the, they're on the south side of the building, and then two smaller dormitories on the north side. And then, you know, because there's, it's a two floor building, and, and so, the bigger build, the bigger rooms were for Chinese immigrants, and, and that's where the majority of the Chinese poems are found. Although there are some found on the other [00:58:00] side because presumably over the years there was overflow from time to time and then, and that, if there were too many Chinese immigrants, they would use these other rooms as well. But the majority of the inscriptions are found, the Chinese inscriptions are in the big rooms. The, they're fascinating because even though these are in the modern period, 1910 to 1940, they're all written in classical forms. Right?
You know, despite the fact that, at the same time in China, in the big cities, poets were experimenting with all sorts of free verse, you know, they're very much Western influenced materials. But not in Angel Island and that, I think this is explained by the fact that these were students from villages in Guangzhou, you know, the Pearl River Delt, and, and they had a, they had sort of, you know, the education that they had, which was pretty good, at least for the, at least for among the poem writers was a traditional education. So the, you know, the poems are written in these very [00:59:00] standard quatrain or octet forms, certain numbers of characters per line. Many of them use historical allusions, you know, to literary allusions, many of which relate to detention of people in the past. You know, there's certainly a lot of, a lot of belaboring the fact that they're in detention and that they're being wronged and, and anger about that. That they were sort of using these historical allusions to, you know, to emphasize that, right? The, there's also poems there that are about homesickness. Some poems are about wondering about, you know, the new country. Although not that many of them, because most of the immigrants didn't really, they hadn't been landed yet. They don't, really didn't know what they were getting into. You know, they were sort of still thinking a lot about their home country. There's a lot of materials there talking about, you know, belaboring the fact that China was so weak in those [01:00:00] days that they were forced to go abroad, you know, to make a living and so on. Yeah?
Arnold: So, me being unfamiliar with the educational process in China, is the fact that this poetry shows up on the walls here mean that there's kind of a higher education for the people who are writing this, or is this…?
Charles: Yes, to a degree, like maybe like, you know, you might say like a good high school education.
Charles: Okay, at that level, because the immigrants from China who came in the period of the Immigration Station Foundation were not the immigrants who came in the 19th century to work on the railroads. Those were mostly laborers, and there were, there were companies that were actually bringing in cohorts of labor, laborers to work on the railroad. Crocker, you know, who was one, who was one of the big builders of the Trans Pacific Railway, really was courting, you know, these labored gangs, because he could get large numbers of people to come from China [01:01:00] specifically to work, and then he could pay them less than they paid white workers, right?. But see, that was 19th century. This time since the, almost all of this, the immigrants were coming to, trying to show that they were related to a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. citizens, many of them were in the cities, you know, they were merchants and so on, they, they were like, had some education. They were often like the smartest kids in the village. That's why, those are the ones who might succeed when they came to America, right?
So, so yes, you know, the quality of the poetry varies. It's on the walls. Some of it's really quite good, you know, even by sort of literary standards from China. And then, some is maybe a little bit rougher than that, but it's so heartfelt that every poem that's there really has great power to it, right? So, so you might ask, well, why did the Chinese carve poetry on the walls? There were [01:02:00] plenty of other people there, right? You know, there were I think there might have been up to 150,000 Japanese immigrants who went through the station. There are Japanese poems on the walls, but there are a couple, but not much. You will find Japanese inscriptions, you know, but they'll write their names, their places of origin, things like that, rather than writing literary terms. That does mean that you can follow up through historical records to see who these people were and then to trace their family histories and so on in America.
But with the Chinese, the reason why Chinese wrote poems on the walls and others group didn't, is that there was a tradition of public poetry in China. There's always, if you go to China, you'll see there's always characters written on important sites. It could be on a cliff. You'll find poetry carved on cliffs. Every building is going to have some kind of inscription on it, right? Because, you know, the, sometimes these are [01:03:00] for good luck, for good fortune. Sometimes it's just a matter of sort of situating a building in a particular place. But there's, but it was to show there's this connection between the, you know, the world, the environment around a place and then the human, human interaction with it, right? And then a subsection of this sort of public poetry or public inscription idea goes to the Confucian ideal. You know, the Confucian scholar is, by his ideology, by his training, obliged to speak truth to power.
And so, so there's a, you know, great tradition of poem, of Chinese scholars writing poems of protest that, and either inscribing them someplace or circulating them someplace. You know, in traditional China, that could be a very dangerous thing to do, you know, for a scholar, but scholars were, you know, the Confucian scholar was [01:04:00] supposed to ignore all that, right? Because the, you know, the moral imperative of speaking up for morality. You know, speaking up for propriety outweighed any kind of personal considerations. Because, you know, the way, the way that Confucian system worked is it was, it all begins with the individual, right? And, you know, the individual through learning and practice, practices self-cultivation, which is essentially a way of sort of improving your moral status. And, you know, the Confucian system worked by, worked if everybody was following these same kinds of, same kinds of ideals, same kinds of virtuous practices. So, so, you know, if you're a Confucian, you know, like an individual, you are also sort of working through a [01:05:00] ethical system that, that other people are recognizing what, you know, what your worth is and your superiors and then subordinates are all sort of working according to the same kinds of concepts, right?
So, this Confucian system is a harmonious one if everybody plays their proper roles at the proper times. So, if I'm a scholar, right, it's my job to criticize those above me if they've done wrong. Now, those above me are, because they're Confucians as well, or supposed to be, they're obliged to listen, right? You know, and take correction, right? So, so, you know, this, you know, whether or not they actually do that, but the, the overall idea is that, is that you have virtuous, you have virtue in your heart and that you are obliged to act upon it, you know, when necessary.
So, [01:06:00] so in Angel Island, you have a whole community of people and they're writing for each other as much as they are writing for posterity, right? It's a community, it's a literary community, you know, that, that is presented there on the walls. And even though there might be like a poem might be there and then the writer has long since gone, somebody else still might come in and respond to it, you know. And so, you'll find there's a certain Angel Island style of these poems that some of the same historical allusions are used over and over again. Some of the same models are used over and over again as well. So, you know, the, I say there's upwards of 200 poems that you, I could, well, I could read a couple of poems for you if you like.
Arnold: Maybe one.
Charles: Maybe one is good.
Charles: That's perfect. Let me just find one here. How about this one?
Arnold: Go for it. [01:07:00]
Charles: I'm going for it. How about this one. “I'm distressed our ancestral land is in such peril, slashed and gouged for over 200 years. Compatriots must renew their will to strengthen the country. Chinese from then on will have no sad, sadness.” Here's another one. “While on ship, the waves filled the sky. I endured bitterness and sorrow. Upon arrival, I met with cruelty and was imprisoned in a jail. I've drifted into Yoli,” which is a historical illusion, “and recall sorrow on top of sorrow. The family at home leans on the gate and stares, broken hearted. They long for one far away. My hard life and my family poverty bring two streams of tears. If one day I can land on this shore, then I'll attain my heart's desire.” [01:08:00] There's a couple of examples there.
Arnold: That's amazing. And we've heard a little bit from Casey and Russell about how the fact of this poetry helped save the site, but how is it incorporated today into interpretation of the site? And what part, if any, or do you play in that site interpretation of this poetry?
Charles: Is that for all of us or…
Russell: Yeah, I'm just trying to figure out who's going to answer this question. I mean, I can step in and tell you, you know, what I am working on. Part of my role is, you know, exhibits. I do, we're a small and scrappy organization. So, a lot of us carry multiple roles. But there are two volunteers that are with California State Parks who have developed this sort of finding aid for locating the poems on the walls, and it's incorporating poems that were in the book Island. There's poems [01:09:00] that were referenced into former detainees manuscripts and also, the poetry that's featured in Dr. Egan's book, Voices of Angel Island. We are working towards making those more accessible to visitors who are on the island. And also, people who are scholars or just interested in the island's poetry that they can experience this from home. So, over the next several months, we are working with a couple organizations to, to see what we can do to make a site-based app where people can find those poems, but also having a web component where those can be available. But there's no real, I guess, replacement for the original books. So, Island and Voices of Angel Island, those two, between the two of them, are the best source for these poems and it'll give you a lot of the historical information behind it. And I would say Dr. Egan's book, he explores those stories from the people that inscribed their names [01:10:00] at the site and like researches those histories. So, you're getting a very robust understanding of the poems and inscriptions by kind of checking those sources.
Charles: Might I add something about the, the conditions out there, you know, the, this finding aid, the finding aid that Samuel Lee and Sam Louie worked on so, so assiduously, is very, very helpful because, you know, the most visitors when they go there, even if they have Chinese or the other languages that are there, have a pretty hard time reading anything off of the walls, right? You know, because the conditions, you know, the, there, were painting campaigns, multiple, like up to seven camp painting campaign during the 1910 to 1940 period, and then more in World War II, that have just covered everything up. And a lot of the, a lot of the original Chinese materials and then other descriptions that were carved in, they were puttied before they were painted. The [01:11:00] only reason we can see very much there now is because the putty has shrunk over time.
But so, so trying to read material straight off the wall is a pretty dodgy business. There are some inscriptions that are pretty clear, others that are really hard to see. So, what's really helpful is to is to have, you know, these books and the finding aids with you, because they'll have the transcriptions of the poems that we, you know, like the community, you know, Him Mark Lai, and on, on all the way till now, have, have deciphered. But it really is a matter of decipherment, trying to figure out what these, you know, these inscriptions were. But once you have it, once you have a transcription, you know, in printed form, and then you look at the walls, then you're able to see it a lot better and actually make a lot more sense of what you're looking at.
Arnold: And if somebody wants to get your book, I assume there's the usual places they could get it, [01:12:00] but do you have like your own website where you sell the book?
Charles: I, I have no website.
Charles: Russell said that he's going to sell some out at the Angel, at Angel Island one of these days soon.
Russell: This might be breaking news, because we actually haven't put anything on social media about it, but one of, one of my other projects is in our new museum, the Angel Island Immigration Museum, we are going to be opening a gift shop there. And his book will be for sale. So, you could actually buy the book and then walk around and find the different inscriptions at the site. So that'll be one place to get it. But it's published by Bloomsbury. So you can, or find it online. It's a major publisher.
Arnold: Probably some local bookstores would have it as well.
Charles: Yeah. And it's in paperback, so it's a lot cheaper than the first version.
Arnold: Well, this has all been incredibly fascinating. I can't thank you all enough for joining us here today. I encourage everybody to get out to Angel Island and use these resources and visit the [01:13:00] immigration station and just generally hike the island too because that's always a lot of fun. So, thank you again Casey, Russell, and Charles for joining us. I have some WNP business to get through now. You are not required to stick around for it. If you want to, you're welcome to, if you do, but I'm going to try to roll through it all fairly quickly, because we were already kind of running it here a little long, but that's okay. This is a great subject to hear about.
Charles: Well, thank you. Arnold. It's great, great to meet you and, Casey and Russell, always great to get together with you folks.
Casey: Yeah, great to see you all. Let me throw out a couple websites just to help people get to the island. If you're coming from the Tiburon direction, it's angelislandferry.com. Remember, angel is “E-L,” not angle. And we also, from San Francisco, have goldengateferry.org. And the on island concession, those folks that help with tram tours and shuttles, that's angelisland.com. If you want to connect directly to the state park, [01:14:00] parks.ca.gov/AngelIsland. And probably the best kind of clearinghouse for information about tours, and there's links to group tour reservations on our partner site, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and their websites, their initials, aiisf.org.
Arnold: Again, thank you all. And I, we'd really like to hear from our podcast listening audience what you think about this. So, send us, as we get into our listener mail. So, as everybody is well aware by now, the best way to reach us by listener mail is by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And, of course, you can take advantage of our social media presence on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and post podcast comments there.
And, lo and behold, after our recent interview podcast with Michael Durand, the owner, publisher, and [01:15:00] editor of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon, we heard from WNP's official history mascot, Charlie the History Poodle. And Charlie has a soft spot for Michael saying, quote, “everything about this podcast filled me with joy. Michael is so talented, caring, and simply hilarious. No wonder the Sunset Beacon is so wonderful too. The paper will always hold special significance to us, as we happened upon one in our driveway, the first weekend we took possession of the new house. It was such a happy but stressful weekend, not yet knowing who our neighbors are and realizing just how much work the house needs. But Sunday night, we finally sat down, picked up the paper, and felt at home. Reading about all the good people and projects around us, and the people, that people cared about the neighborhood enough to write it down, gives us such reassurance we were making the right move. So, thank you Sunset Beacon [01:16:00] for calming us down, and thanks WNP for making us want to stay in the city.” End quote. Thank you, Charlie. You are near and dear to our hearts, and we are glad you want to stick around here. You were so right about our hyperlocal newspapers. And this would also be a good time to extend our best wishes to Michael Durand and our hope that he recovers quickly from his recent health issues. We cannot lose you, Michael, so get well soon, and we can wait on the next month's paper coming out till you're better.
And let's now get into the benefits of membership and donating. We get into this every week and funding has become a really big issue with us. Since the pandemic began, the usual government grants have been going down as they look to fund other things. So, we need your help and to do that best, become a member of the WNP by clickety, clickety clacking the big button at the top of every page. There's one for becoming a member. There's one for [01:17:00] becoming a donator to us. Membership gets you stuff like the magazine, the quarterly magazine that comes out, discounts on events, some other perks. But it also just supports all the good work we do and that we make available for free. Like the Cliff House Collection, its care and exhibition. You know, hopefully some of it gets back into the Cliff House as it has a new tenant and will hopefully be opening up in a year or so. We hope to maybe get some of that back in there. So we'll see. There's also the OpenSFHistory program where we have thousands and thousands of historic photos of San Francisco. We like to try to keep scanning and putting more up but also just to interpret them. It requires a lot of volunteer time. So that helps all of this. And, of course, this podcast which we keep free and help people like you learn about West side San [01:18:00] Francisco history.
And so that brings us to What's Up with WNP. So, we are winding down our public events for the year, but you know, the Alexandria Theater turns 100 next month, and even though it's not still open, it's still one of our favorite local landmarks. And there may be some plans afoot to do something about that. Maybe some holiday plans coming up. But you can find all the latest upcoming happenings on our website at outsidelands.org/events. And you can also sign up on our website for our monthly newsletter, which goes out and lets people know about what's coming up. Or you could just follow us on Eventbrite. There's over 400 people who already do so. When we post an event to Eventbrite, they will send you a message telling you about it and so, you can be one of the first to sign up.
So, this has been a lengthy podcast already. Sorry about that, but let's get to our [01:19:00] preview for next week. And that is, with baseball season ending, we thought we'd share the story of an Italian ballplayer, coach, and just all around great guy. So that's it this week. Until next time, I'm Arnold Woods and probably Nicole will be back with us next time. This has been another episode of Outside Lands San Francisco. Thank you so, so much to our guests, Casey, Charles, and Russell. And thank you for being with us, history friends.
Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.
Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, [01:20:00] also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.