A place to remember: scaling the walls of Angel Island Immigration Station

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This paper considers the restoration and presentation of Angel Island Immigration Station, a federal facility in the San Francisco Bay that between 1910 and 1940 worked to prevent the arrival of Chinese laborers to the United States in accordance with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The production of Angel Island Immigration Station as a national historic landmark is delineated through the social construction of scale. I discuss efforts to achieve a leap in the scale of the site's significance and how this brings forth new management regimes that change the format of the interpretation there. In particular, narrative construction, landscape design, and revised tours, insert a standardized story of Chinese exclusion into the national memory. This paper shows how the imperative to increase the scope of recognition—to petition nationally for status and funds—requires a repackaging of stories to affirm popular American ideals of freedom over those that challenge the nation's persecution of Chinese immigrants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-700
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • Immigration station
  • Scale
  • Chinese exclusion


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