Ellis Island in New York Harbor is America’s most famous and historically significant gateway and one of the country’s most inspiring museums. It pays homage to the undying courage of his more than 12 million immigrants who passed through this processing station after weeks of journeys in difficult conditions between 1892 and his 1924.
More than 100 million living Americans are the descendants of these newcomers who hope to realize the American dream for themselves and their children. The Ellis Island National Immigration Museum is a poignant tribute to their experience. In the restored main building of the former immigrant complex, you’ll find stories from historians, immigrants themselves, and other sources, bringing to life a fascinating collection of personal belongings, official documents, photographs, and film footage. . Visitors interested in tracking ancestral details have access to searchable historical records.
Ellis Island has appeared in many movies, including The Godfather.
Part II and part of Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The public can only access it by ferry. Buy your tickets online in advance to avoid long lines.
Ellis Island, named after one of its previous owners, Samuel Ellis, was formerly known as Little Oyster Island, although the island’s original Mohegan name was “Kioshk”. , means “Seagull Island”. Ellis Island was used by the military for much of his 19th century and was home to artillery batteries and naval ammunition depots.
Prior to 1890, individual states controlled immigration to the United States, but around this time political instability, economic hardship, and increasing religious persecution in Europe led to one of the largest mass immigration events in human history. has occurred. The United States government decided to build a new immigration office on Ellis Island and opened its doors on January 1, 1892.
A girl from Ireland named Annie Moore was the first immigrant processed there, accompanied by her two younger brothers. Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million immigrants came to the United States via Ellis Island. First and second class passengers arriving on steamships in New York Harbor were considered “wealthy” and therefore were not required to undergo the inspection process, but third or steering passengers, or for legal or health reasons. Passengers with problems were subject to inspection at Ellis Island and sent there for processing.
The inspection took place in the registry office (today’s Great Hall) and lasted several hours. In addition to judicial control with the help of interpreters, doctors examined each person for physical illnesses and health problems. She was banned only 2% of the time. Reasons for refusal included concerns about infectious diseases and being unable to find legal employment.
In 1897, a fire on Ellis Island destroyed the immigration office, destroying federal and state immigration records dating back to 1855. While the ship’s manifest is being burned, the customs list is kept with the US Customs Office and is available for inspection. After that, in 1900, a new refractory factory was established and started operation.
Beginning in the early 1920s, Ellis Island’s use declined as regulations were tightened to limit the number of people entering the United States. U.S. embassies were set up around the world, and paperwork and medical examinations took place there. Until 1922, only war refugees, refugees in need of assistance, and those with paperwork problems were brought to Ellis Island for the inspection process. Since then, it has been used for various purposes, including as a concentration camp for enemy merchants during World War II, until it was officially closed in 1954.
Things to see on Ellis Island
The Ellis Island National Immigration Museum is located in the main building and includes exhibits, a theater, gift shop, cafe, and visitor facilities. Upon arrival, stop by the museum lobby to pick up your complimentary audio guide. An audio guide provides detailed information about the exhibits and is available in a children’s version. Check the information desk for a schedule of guided tours, programs and documentary films.
The museum has three floors of exhibits documenting the immigrant experience on Ellis Island and the general history of immigration to the United States. If you’re short on time, head upstairs for two of the most intriguing exhibits. The first, Through America’s Gate, explores the step-by-step process newcomers face within a beautiful domed registry office. This includes marking suspected illnesses with chalk, a wince eye test and 29 questions. Second, the peak year of immigration:
From 1880 to 1924, we examine the motivations behind immigrant travel and the challenges they faced as they embarked on their new lives in America.
For a story of the building’s rise, fall, and revival, visit the Landmark Restoration exhibit on the third floor. His tableaux of shattered desks, chairs and other abandoned possessions are strangely haunting. If you don’t want to carry around an audio guide, you can always pick up one of the phones in each exhibit area to hear moving accounts of real people who passed through Ellis Island in the 1980s.
Another option is a free 35-minute guided tour of the park by one of his rangers or volunteers. For the full experience, watch the 35-minute film Island of Hope, Island of Tears running all day at one of the two cinemas. And if you have ancestors who traveled via Ellis Island, you can browse the ship’s manifest and immigration records at the American Family Immigration History Center on the first floor and print and view them for a fee.
The rest of Ellis Island’s buildings (1930s Ferry Building, hospital, morgue, infectious disease ward, offices, residences and maintenance facilities) can only be visited on guided tours that must be booked in advance.
Tickets and other practical things
Statue Cruises is the only ferry company authorized to provide tickets and transportation to Ellis Island. Ferry tickets can be purchased online here or by calling 1-877-LADY-TIX. Tickets can also be purchased at the Statue Cruises ticket office in Castle Clinton, Battery Park, New York City, or at the ferry departure point in Liberty State Park, New Jersey.
Ferry tickets are $23.50 for visitors ages 13-61, $12 for children ages 4-12, and $18 for seniors. There is no extra charge to visit the National Museum of Immigration. Helmet tours are open to visitors aged 13 and over, and adult tickets cost €68.50 including the ferry ride. This tour offers his 90-minute guided tour of the unrestored hospital complex on the south side of Ellis Island and includes his Unframed-Ellis Island art exhibition by French artist JR.
A self-guided audio tour is included with every ferry ticket purchase, and content is available in his 12 languages.
Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Family-friendly tours are available, as are American Sign Language and audio commentary versions.
Ferry schedules change seasonally and during peak tourist periods. Current timetables are posted on the Statue Cruises website. Please visit the National Park Service website for the latest information on island openings.