ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION FOUNDATION
From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the site of an U.S. Immigration Station that functioned as the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island, although the Angel Island facility also enforced policies designed to exclude, rather than welcome, many Pacific Coast immigrants coming from eighty two countries.
In 1970, the site was slated for demolition because of its deteriorated condition; but the discovery of Chinese poetry that had been carved into the walls of the detention barracks saved it from destruction and led to renewed interest in the Angel Island Immigration Station. Most importantly, the discovery of poetry increased awareness of the need to access the vivid lessons of sacrifice and triumph in the history of immigration.
Sparked by the discovery, Bay Area Asian Americans, spearheaded by Paul Chow, formed the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee (AIISHAC). This organization studied how best to preserve the station for historical interpretation. In July 1976, their hard work came to fruition as the state legislature appropriated $250,000 to restore and preserve the Immigration Station as a state monument.
The barracks opened to the public in 1983, and members of AIISHAC created the Immigration Station Foundation to continue preservation and educational efforts for the site, and to increase awareness of the contributions Pacific Coast immigrants make.
AIISF has provided vital financial support for the Immigration Station, serving as the non-profit fundraising partner for the site. Since 1994, AIISF has leveraged $40 million to develop the cultural and physical landscape of the site. Foundation members preserved the poems on the barracks walls and created a collection of oral histories from those who had come through the Station and their descendants.
NOTABLE MILESTONES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1994 The Immigration Station Foundation officially changed its name to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. The Foundation’s site preservation report was approved by California State Parks.
1995 The traveling exhibit “Gateway to the Gold Mountain” was completed and launched.
1997 The Angel Island Immigration Station was awarded the National Historic Landmark status by the National Register of Historic Places.
1998 California State Parks received $400,000 from a state measure for site planning studies.
1999 The National Trust for Historic Preservation identified the Angel Island Immigration Station as one of America’s eleven Most Endangered Historic Places as part of the Save America’s Treasures Program.
2000 California voters approved a state bond measure of $15 million for the Immigration Station for the site rehabilitation.
2001 Funding in the amount of $1 million was received from the Save America’s Treasures program for preserving poetry and other inscriptions on the walls of the barracks.
2002 Launch of Rehabilitation Project Phase I for historical and feasibility studies.
2003 Rehabilitation Project Phase I continued – including design of the infrastructure, exterior grounds and the barracks.
2005 The Angel Island Immigration Station Hospital Preservation and Restoration Act was signed by President Bush, authorizing up to $15 million for rehabilitation of the Hospital (Project Phase II).
2007 A grant of $3.6 million was received from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) for the renovation and preservation of the Hospital and interpretive exhibits in the Barracks.
2008 $3.35 million in federal appropriations were secured for the stabilization and rehabilitation of the Public Health Service Hospital.
2009 The rehabilitated Immigration Station barracks and grounds were reopened after completing a $15 million restoration. Over 1,500 people attend the ceremony. California state funding for the museum exhibits was received and construction began.
2010 President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring January 21, 2010 as National Angel Island Day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Immigration Station’s opening. The Immigrant Voices Initiative was launched to create a robust and active online center of Pacific immigrant stories. An annual ceremony, the Immigrant Heritage Awards, was established to recognize prominent immigrant Americans.
2011 Phase I of the Immigrant Heritage Wall project, a memorial consisted of over 300 plaques honoring immigrant ancestors, was designed, constructed and dedicated.
2012 Phase II of the Immigrant Heritage Wall Project was completed and dedicated. Planning for the rehabilitation of the Hospital is completed.
2013 The 5-year construction project for the rehabilitation of the Hospital began.
2017 A grant of $2.952 million was secured for the construction of the Pacific Coast Immigration Center, a place to preserve and showcase the diverse stories of immigrants from the Pacific.
2018 AIISF launched a scholarship program to provide local, underprivileged students the opportunity to visit the Immigration Station and learn more about immigration history.
2019 Rehabilitation work on the Hospital building will be completed and installation of exhibits is scheduled to begin.