Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Museum in New York City, New York

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Museum in New York City, New York

Ellis Island Immigration Museum Photo © il.irenelee

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Ellis Island Immigration Museum

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 - Ellis Island Immigration
	Museum
Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Photo by Shelley Panzarella
Ellis Island is located only about half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor and is visited by more than three million people each year. Between 1892 and 1954, the island was the point of entry into the United States for over twelve million immigrants who arrived in New York City by steamship. The immigrants were processed and examined there before being cleared to enter the country. 2% of the people were sent back.

Nowadays, the immigration halls on Ellis Island are a fascinating museum, the so-called Ellis Island Immigration Museum. It dedicated to sharing and explaining the stories and experiences of the millions of immigrants who came there to look for a better life.

The island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Apart from the museum, the rest of the island is closed to the public and managed by the National Park Service.

Dress collection - Ellis
	Island Immigration Museum
Dress collection - Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Photo by Wagner T. Cassimiro "Aranha"

History

Before Ellis Island opened, more than eight million immigrants who arrived in New York City were processed and screened at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in Lower Manhattan. When the federal government gained control over immigration in 1890, plans were made to build the nation’s first federal immigration station on Ellis Island. Up until then, the island had been the site of Fort Gibson and a naval magazine.

The island was greatly expanded with landfill from ships and debris coming from the city’s subway tunnels. It doubled in size. The immigrant inspection station, a huge three-story building, was opened on January 1, 1892. That very day, three ships landed and 700 immigrants were processed. During the first year, no less than 450,000 immigrants passed through the station.

A fire devastated all wooden buildings on the island in 1897. Luckily no people died, but nearly all immigration records dating back to 1855 were lost. A new fireproof station was built and opened in 1900. It was built to process up to 5,000 immigrants per day, but its facilities soon proved to be too small to handle the waves of immigrants in the years before World War I. To illustrate the size of the place: the dining hall alone had a capacity of 1,000 people.

The peak in immigration lasted until 1924 when a new bill greatly restricted immigration and gave U.S. embassies and consulates the power to process immigration. From then on the only people to pass through Ellis Island were war refugees and people who had trouble with their paperwork. It eventually became a detention and deportation facility and closed in 1954. By that time more than twelve million people had been processed. Nowadays, it is assumed that 40% of all Americans can retrace their ancestry to Ellis Island.

Museum of Immigration, Ellis
	Island, New York - Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Museum of Immigration, Ellis Island, New York - Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Photo by Alexis

Visiting Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The great Ellis Island Immigration Museum exhibits the hopes, fears, struggles, and joys of the travels of those twelve million immigrants who passed through the station. The museum also helps people realize the impact that those immigrants have had on life on the United States.

In the main building, a 30-minute introductory video, ‘Island of Hope, Island of Fears’, gives visitors an impression of the experiences of immigrants. The museum consists of three floors with exhibits and displays on the possessions that some immigrants brought from their country of origin, baggage that was used on the long voyages to America; more information of famous immigrants, newspaper articles; photographs, political cartoons; and so on. Visitors can learn interesting facts about the period of immigration and history.

The first floor contains the Baggage Room and the fascinating exhibit, Journeys: The People of America 1550-1890 which explores the history of immigration to the U.S. before the opening of Ellis Island. The other two floors houses the Dormitory Room, Ellis Island Chronicles, and the Treasures from Home display.

The main building also holds the records of the more than 22 million immigrants and crew members who entered the country between 1892 and 1954 through either Ellis Island or the Port of New York. This great research facility is called the American Family Immigration History Center, and is open to the public and allows people to look for information about their ancestors. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor is inscribed with 700,000 names of immigrants and visitors are given the chance to add the names of their own ancestors as well.

Ellis Island Immigration
	Museum - Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Ellis Island Immigration Museum - Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Photo by shankar s.

How to Get There

Ellis Island can only be reached by ferry. Ferries leave from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Those ferries also travel to Liberty Island (Wikipedia
	Article) and the Statue of Liberty.

Ellis Island is open every day of the year, except on Christmas Day. If you want to visit both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, it is strongly recommended to get on a ferry before 1PM. Access to both attractions is included in the ferry tickets.

Nearby Landmarks

Other major and iconic landmarks in New York City are One World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Times Square, and the Empire State Building.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 17, 2015

Pictures of Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The outside of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum 2 - Ellis Island Immigration Museum
The outside of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum 2 - Photo by Christopher Spooner

Ellis Island Immigration Museum - Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Ellis Island Immigration Museum - Photo by Dave Griffiths

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