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2019 Public Programs

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October 24, 2019 6:30PM


MOCATalks with Sean Fraga - Forgotten History of the Transcontinental Railroads


Founded in 1980, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States. The greatly expanded MOCA at 215 Centre Street will continue to be a national home for the precious narratives of diverse Chinese American communities, while striving to be a model among interactive museums.


Tickets are $15 and include book signing, wine and Museum admission. Members receive complimentary tickets. Not a Member? Join today!

Join us to meet and talk with Sean Fraga about the forgotten reason for the construction of America’s numerous transcontinental railroads: trade with Asia. Sean uses maps, postcards, government records, magazine articles, and corporate files to reveal this overlooked history. He argues that nineteenth-century Americans believed the transcontinental railroads’ great potential lay in opening the United States to the Pacific World. Railroad promoters promised that Asian imports would enrich the United States and framed their rail lines as modern versions of the fabled Northwest Passage. But as the transcontinental railroads opened to traffic, they instead found it more profitable to export American commodities to industrializing Asian nations and to support American imperialism in the Pacific World. This new account of why the transcontinental railroads were built shows how they are part of a larger story of European and American economic engagement with Asia, spanning from Christopher Columbus to today’s bustling container ports.

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The Museum of Chinese in America

215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013