Xintian Wang

Xintian Wang

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Photo exhibit honoring legendary Asian American photographer Corky Lee opens in New York City

CORKY LEE

When Corky Lee studied American History at Queens College in New York, the young Chinese American saw a photograph in a book that featured workers celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit in Utah. Lee was surprised to read that there were more than 12,000 workers from southern China who were employed by the Central Pacific Railroad, a U.S. railway company founded in the 1860s. ​Despite using the best magnifying glass he could find at Woolworth’s to study the black-and-white photo closely, Lee could not find a single Chinese person. 

“History — at least photographically — says that the Chinese were not present,” Lee told NPR in 2014.