Ellis Island , located in the Upper New York Bay , New Jersey has a land area of 32.030 acres (12.962 ha). The entire island has been owned and administered by the U.S. Federal Government since 1808.
Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the site of the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 to 1954. This island served as an immigrant station and a temporary shelter for people coming to the U.S. from other countries with approximately 12 million people passing through Ellis Island seeking refuge, freedom and opportunity. The island was greatly expanded with landfill between 1892 and 1934. Since 1990, restored buildings on the island host a museum of immigration run by the National Park Service as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. A 1998 United States Supreme Court decision found most of the island to be part of New Jersey.
New York’s Ellis Island is now one of the most popular attractions for those visiting Manhattan probably because millions of Americans have an ancestor that passed through the island when coming to USA .
Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation’s premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, the station processed over 12 million immigrants trough by the US Bureau of Immigration. After the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed, which greatly restricted immigration , the only immigrants to pass through the station were displaced persons or war refugees.Today, over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who first arrived in America at Ellis Island before dispersing to points all over the country.
Immigrants who arrived here in possession of a first or second class ticket were easily allowed to enter America but poorer passengers were subject to more rigorous examinations. Even so , only 2% of all arrivals were sent back to their home countries.
Ellis Island Museum
Today, Ellis Island is an Immigration Museum and is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Visitors may enjoy self-guided tours of the museum . The American Immigrant Wall of Honor exhibits the names of 600,000 men and women who passed through Ellis Island seeking a better life . Descendants of the immigrants paid $100 each to have their relative’s name placed on the wall .
Access to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the grounds surrounding the Main Building is free.
Things to do
There are many things to experience when visiting Ellis Island:
- Self-Guided Tours: The three floors of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum were designed to be self-guiding. Brochures are available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, as well as English
- Visitors can watch the movie “Island of Hope, Island of Tears“. There are free movie tickets at the Information Desk
- Learn about the island’s history and our nation’s immigration past by joining a ranger-guided tour.
- Search the database of Ellis Island immigrant manifests at the American Family Immigration History Center
- See the Immigrant Wall of Honor that comprises artifacts, photographs, prints, videos, interactive displays, oral histories, and temporary exhibits