Ellis Island is known by many as an immigration island; the island served as a border post for millions of immigrants who came to the United States to realize their dreams. America was therefore “land of the free and home to the brave”. The American Dream was for everyone, something that was not obvious in the home country of the immigrants.
Island of Tears
What many do not know is that Ellis Island only served as a border post for immigrants from 1892. Until then, for a period of approximately 35 years, more than 8 million immigrants were registered at the Castle Garden Immigration Depot in Lower Manhattan. When Ellis Island was opened, 700 immigrants passed. The first immigrant was 15-year-old Annie Moore. Upon arrival, the immigrants were given a brief medical examination (to determine whether or not they were allowed to continue) and some questions were asked. Because approximately 2% of these people were denied access for medical or other reasons, Ellis Island was also called The Island of Tears.
Ellis Island is named after Samuel Ellis who bought the island in 1785. From 1808 the island belongs to the United States. From 1814 the island served as a military site for almost 80 years. Today, Ellis Island is owned by the federal government and is part of the state of New York and the state of New Jersey. In fact, the island is located within the boundaries of Jersey City. All this has historical, but mainly administrative, reasons.
Ellis Island (along with Liberty Island and Black Tom) was once called Oyster Island because of the huge amount of oyster beds that could be found around the island. For three centuries and until land reclamation projects destroyed most of the oyster beds, the island served as the main source of oysters. These projects also formed the basis for arguments: to which state did the island actually belong? The Supreme Court ruled in 1998: most of the man-made island belonged to New Jersey while the existing island (about 20% of the total area) belonged to New York. This means that some parts of the island are in the state of New York and others in the state of New Jersey. This has no further consequences for your visit to the island. Ellis Island even has an address: Manhattan Block 1, Lot 201.
From 1965 Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In 1990 the immigration museum opened where documents can be found after the summer of 1887. Documents from before that period were destroyed during a fire.
In the Ellis Island Museum there are computers on which everyone can search in the immigration archives. During your visit, did you become curious as to whether you also have ancestors who entered the United States via Ellis Island? Search by your last name and who knows there may be a match.
Visit Ellis Island
Ellis Island can only be reached by ferry. A ferry departs from Battery Park every forty minutes, with the Statue of Liberty as the first stop. Keep in mind that this is a popular boat trip, so it can be quite busy. Tickets for this ferry are included in the New York CityPASS, New York Pass and the Explorer pass.
Skip the Line Walking Tour
If you do not want to stand in line, want to know more about Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, you can participate in the Skip the Line Walking Tour. You don’t have to stand in the (often very long) line and a professional guide will tell you everything you want to know about the history of New York.
You might also find this interesting:–
– Empire State Building
– Top of the Rock
– Statue of Liberty
– 9/11 Memorial Museum
– One World Observation
– St. Patricks Cathedral
– Central Park
– and more Sightseeings & Activities….