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Bay Area Melting Pot: A Region of Immigrants

In March 2016, we took part in TAKE THIS HAMMER: Art + Media Activism from the Bay Area at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The show, curated by Christian Frock, brought together works of designers, activists, and community organizations to highlight themes of activism in a place with a long legacy of citizen participation.

We exhibited a 12' long map we had manufactured especially for the show, Bay Area Immigration. It looks at the influx, over 150 years, of global populations to the Bay Area. It is a printed adaptation of our recent digital atlas, Foreign Born Map, that we made for the University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab.

Our American Panorama atlases, including Foreign Born, for the University of Richmond, digitize historical data on migration to and through the United States, including forced migration of slave populations through time, westward expansion on routes such as the Oregon Trail, and global immigrant populations as they changed over the last 150 years. This data sheds light not only on American history, but puts into new context issues that we are dealing with today.

We were asked to include a piece on immigration for Take This Hammer because of it’s relevance today. Looking at the continuous flow of immigrants from all every continent to the Bay Area adds perspective to conversations in the media about immigration right now. As Donald Trump talks about building a wall around the country, it’s important to remember that our borders have always been fluid, and immigration today is part of a long, historical narrative.