When the Angel Island Immigration Station officially opened in 1910, it was considered ideal because of its isolation. Built as a result of the Exclusion Laws of 1882, its primary objective was to exclude new immigrants from entering the country. The island, which was once used for military occupation, was not a welcoming facility. On the shores where Chinese immigrants first stepped foot in America, there once stood a pier and administration. A fire destroyed much of the facility in 1940 thus ending its use for immigration.
The pier was the primary entrance for the Immigration Station. It led straight out from the Administration Building with a slanted T-bar dock crossing at the end of it. When arriving at the pier, Chinese men were immediately separated from women and children. Europeans travelers would have already been allowed to disembark. Asians and other immigrants, including Russians, Mexicans were immediatly inspected for health reasons.
After new arrivals examinations, the Immigrants were assigned a bunk in the Barracks, where they would await their interrogations to begin. This is where most spent their days and nights. It had been deemed by public health officials to be a firetrap, the smell from the bathrooms was unbearable, and at times there were prisoners being kept there. Most of the poems found on Angel Island came from the walls of the barracks and are still visible today.
The largest component was the two-story Administration Building. It contained rooms for examinations, registration, the Chief Inspector, doctors, detentions, baggage, and employee dorms. In 1940, a fire destroyed the Administration Building and hastened the government decision to permanently abandon the Immigration Station on Angel Island.
A journey across the Pacific Ocean has many stops including Honolulu, Manila, Yokohama, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Many passengers could barely afford their travel tickets alone and needed help of relatives and neighbors. They all believed one thing: that they could make that money back quickly in America. Other immigrants came from the Punjab, Russia, the Philippines, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Latin America.