Plague at the Golden Gate  

The death of Chinese immigrant Wong Chut King in San Francisco on March 6, 1900, would have likely passed unnoticed if the medical officer inspecting King’s body had not discovered a swollen black lymph node on his groin—evidence that the poor man’s rapid and painful death was the result of bubonic plague. Fearing the city would become the American epicenter of a disease that had already claimed ten million lives worldwide, health officials drew upon racist pseudoscience to quarantine Chinatown. Local press, business and political leaders, meanwhile, conspired to cover up the threat in hopes of protecting San Francisco’s burgeoning economy. As the disease continued to spread, the city’s new federal public health officer, Rupert Blue, determined to save the city. Blue dedicated himself to tracking the epidemic, proving that the throngs of flea-infested rats that swarmed through the district—rather than simply urban filth or the foreign habits of the Chinese—were the true reason the disease persisted. He then launched a comprehensive sanitation campaign focused on rodent control as a way to combat the crisis—the first time in American history a federal health official had launched such a campaign. Based on the critically-acclaimed book, Black Death at the Golden Gate by David K. Randall, this film will present a complex and dramatic narrative of the desperate race to save San Francisco and the nation from the plague.