Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum

The Statue of Liberty may be the most iconic sight that comes to mind when one thinks of the history of immigrants in New York, but not far from it in the harbor is another important landmark—Ellis Island. Until the Supreme Court ruled in 1875 that authority to regulate immigration belonged to the federal government alone, various states had implemented their own policies. After the federal government took over the processing of immigrants from New York State in 1890, some 12 million immigrants would pass through Ellis Island until it closed in 1954 (for 30 years, however, beginning in 1924, it was used only as a temporary detention center for immigrants who had issues with their paperwork). By one estimate, some 40 percent of Americans have at least one ancestor who entered the United States through Ellis Island. The historic site is today operated by the National Park Service, and ferries depart to the island from Battery Park (as well as from Liberty State Park in New Jersey). Visits include the Main Arrivals Hall with its displays recounting the immigration experience; temporary exhibitions are located on the second and third floors of the building. Statue Cruises is the only operator authorized to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island—their cruises include stops at both, though entry to the statue and the immigration museum require separate tickets purchased on each island.

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Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty may be the most iconic sight that comes to mind when one thinks of the history of immigrants in New York, but not far from it in the harbor is another important landmark—Ellis Island. Until the Supreme Court ruled in 1875 that authority to regulate immigration belonged to the federal government alone, various states had implemented their own policies. After the federal government took over the processing of immigrants from New York State in 1890, some 12 million immigrants would pass through Ellis Island until it closed in 1954 (for 30 years, however, beginning in 1924, it was used only as a temporary detention center for immigrants who had issues with their paperwork). By one estimate, some 40 percent of Americans have at least one ancestor who entered the United States through Ellis Island. The historic site is today operated by the National Park Service, and ferries depart to the island from Battery Park (as well as from Liberty State Park in New Jersey). Visits include the Main Arrivals Hall with its displays recounting the immigration experience; temporary exhibitions are located on the second and third floors of the building. Statue Cruises is the only operator authorized to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island—their cruises include stops at both, though entry to the statue and the immigration museum require separate tickets purchased on each island.

Where Generations Past Came To America

Ellis Island Immigration Museum is a unique and thought-provoking place to visit for locals and visitors alike. While this spot is significant to American history in general, for many it is a special experience to visit an important piece in their family’s story. When visiting Ellis Island Immigration Museum it’s difficult to not imagining the millions of immigrants who passed through the walls of the tiled building. The museum is packed with information that can sometimes overwhelm you—no matter how much you see, how much you read, or how much you listen to the audio guide there’s always more to learn. You are sure to leave with a deep and profound appreciation for the tremendous journey that the millions of individuals who helped build this country went through.

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