Archive for June, 2007

Partnerships in Preservation

  Date Friday, June 15th, 2007

The first immigrant to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay arrived 10,000 years ago. He was probably an ancestor of the Coast Miwok people who took residence in Marin County, north of the San Francisco Peninsula and arrived by tule reed boat to explore for food and habitat. His history was not recorded, though it is imagined. The history of thousands of other immigrants who passed through Angel Island will, however, be preserved when the historic U.S. Immigration Station on Angel Island completes a restoration and reopens in Fall of 2007.

Restoration of the immigration station on Angel Island has been years coming, funded by the State of California (which oversees Angel Island State Park), countless private contributions – many from descendents of those who entered the U.S. through the immigration station – and, most recently, by a grant from the American Express Partners in Preservation program.

The San Francisco Bay Area was one of several U.S. travel destinations selected by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to receive $1 million in preservation funds from American Express. Twenty five sites throughout the Bay Area were identified as needing immediate care with residents of the area voting online to select those that should be assisted, first. The sites were chosen for their historic, architectural and cultural significance, demonstrated community support, ability to be restored by June 2008 and their contribution to tourism or community development.

The last factor – contribution to tourism or community development – is new to how historic preservation is prioritized in California, today. It recognizes that to be sustainable an historic site or location must be visited and that visitation should serve both to keep the site preserved and benefit the local economy. The sites that were selected, “are all integral to the fabric of San Francisco as a diverse and historic destination,â€? said Joe D’Allessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau who recognized the preservation of them will benefit “visitors and local residents alike.â€?

On Angel Island (voted the second-most important site to preserve from among the 25 selected for American Express’ grant), tourism and preservation are synonymous. Visitors to Angel Island combine a visit to the Immigration Station and the island’s other historic sites with picnicking, sightseeing tours on tramways and by riding Segways in small guided groups, hiking, mountain biking, ocean kayaking and relaxing. The ferry ride from Tiburon, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Oakland/Alameda is part of the experience. Some visitors even choose to combine a visit to Angel Island with one on Alcatraz Island, notorious for its infamous prison.

Tourism has become recognized as essential to sustaining historic preservation and California’s tourism industry is responding to that reality. Responding to encouragement by President George W. Bush’s historic preservation advisor, John Nau, III, Californians organized a California Cultural Heritage Tourism Council in 2004 which subsequently has sponsored symposia and efforts to connect tourism with cultural and heritage preservation. “We recognized that California’s vast geography and diverse heritage and cultures kept tourism, cultural and heritage leaders from speaking to one another and thus cooperating. By coming together, we have been able to generate highly visible promotional efforts and stimulate cooperation, to the benefit of preservation,� says Susan Wilcox, co-chair of the California Cultural Heritage Tourism Council and Deputy Director of the California Travel and Tourism Commission.

Historic preservation has long been a hallmark of American Express’ involvement in the community, reflecting its recognition of the contribution of sites and monuments to a sense of national and local identity and the role that their preservation can play in attracting visitors and revitalizing neighborhoods. As early as 1983, American Express launched a cause-related effort to raise $1.7 million for the preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (the eastern counterpart to Angel Island), and contributed more than $10 million from 1996 through 2005 to help preserve 119 historic sites in 59 countries from the World Monuments Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites.

In American Express’ most recent million dollar grant, Bernard Maybeck’s spectacular Arts and Crafts-styled First Church of Christ Scientist in Berkeley received $118,000 which will help pay for Seismic upgrades, and the Angel Island Immigration Station received $84,000 for structural repairs. All of the other 23 sites received funding, proportional to the response of those who voted on the Partners in Preservation Web site.

When the Angel Island Immigration Station is reopened this fall, thousands whose ancestors arrived in America from the Pacific will be able to experience what living there was like and better understand the frustrations they experienced while interned and hopes they had for their future lives in America. Others will better appreciate the insensitive way in which people were excluded because of their race and differences.

The Immigration Station was constructed in 1905 at what was then called China Cove. Its purpose was to be a point of entry for all immigrants from the Pacific, though it gained infamy as means of enforcing exclusion laws which limited Chinese entry to the U.S. At the time, only 105 Chinese could enter the U.S. legally per year, however Chinese who could prove familiar relationship to a legal citizen could be admitted, if they could prove it. While Chinese immigrants waited to document their family ties, they were housed in barracks on Angel Island. Additionally, immigrants from over 80 other Pacific countries entered the U.S. officially through the Immigration Station, which served as the west coast equivalent to Ellis Island.

The restoration of the Immigration Station is one in a series of ongoing historic restoration projects on Angel Island, the largest island in San Francisco Bay. This hilly, grass and oak forested, triangle-shaped island was an important coastal defensive position for much of the past 150 years. U.S. Army soldiers were posted on Angel Island and conducted military actions from the island from the American Civil War to the Cold War. Camp Reynolds (named after a general who died at the Battle of Gettysburg), the last original wooden Civil War era army post still in existence, is found on the island’s west end; troops serving in campaigns against the Apache, Sioux, Modoc and other Indian tribes were staged from the island during the late 1800s; soldiers shipped out to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and to World War I, World War II and the Korean War thereafter; and defensive Nike missile launch pads were situated on Angel Island during the Cold War. Most of the remaining army facilities are in a state of gradual deterioration, affected by the island’s exposure to the sea and they would otherwise decay away were it not for the visitors to the island who find value in preserving them and the agencies, foundations and contributors, like American Express who are working to sustain their stories.

The Coast Miwok didn’t have such patrons. Their stories are mostly forgotten, and yet Californians are increasingly recognizing that if what we do today is to have any meaning or value, then we must begin by first recognizing and preserving what happened before our time. That’s now happening on Angel Island thanks to new Partnerships in Preservation.

Linking California Heritage
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation –
American Express Partners in Preservation –
Angel Island Foundation –
Angel Island Company –
Angel Island State Park –
National Trust for Historic Preservation –

Sunset on a Houseboat

  Date Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

CLICK HERE to see sunset on a houseboat at Shasta Lake.


  Date Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

CLICK HERE to see the new Yurts at Shasta Lake.

One Fast Jet Ski

  Date Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Marshall Pike takes us jet skiing on Shasta Lake on one hot waverunner!

Spitting Fumerole

  Date Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Marshall Pike visits Lassen Volcanic National Park and its spitting fumeroles for California Fun.