Ellis Island is a small island located in Upper New York Bay in the Port of New York and New Jersey. The island is own by the Federal Government. It served as a gateway for millions of emigrants for more than 60 years. President Benjamin Harrison opened the country’s first Federal immigration station at Ellis Island in 1892, right after the government took control of immigration in the United States. The station processed almost 450,000 immigrants throughout the course of its first year, and over 12 million during the time of its operation (1892 until 1954).
Ellis Island was proclaimed a part of Statue of Liberty National Monument On October 15, 1965 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The Island opened to the public in 1976. The museum opened on September 10, 1990, in the restored Main Building. Today, visitors can tour the Ellis Island Immigration and trace their ancestors through millions of immigrant arrival records made available to the public since 2001. It has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island located in the upper New York Bay, was the
gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States. It was the nation's
busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. From 1892 to 1954,
over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island. From
its original 3.3 acres, in the time when Ellis Island was Fort Gibson, the
island enlarged to 27.5 acres. This was done by landfill obtained from the
ballast of ships, excess earth from the construction of the New York City
subway system and elsewhere. Before Ellis Island opened, immigrants were
processed by New York State officials before being admitted into America. In
1892, right after the government took control of immigration, President
Benjamin Harrison opened the country’s first Federal immigration station at
Ellis Island. While the construction to build the station was being done, the
processing was done at a barge office in the nearby Battery.
The station processed almost 450,000 immigrants throughout
the course of its first year. They processed them in many different ways from
medical exams including eye tests, and literacy tests to see if they could
survive in America. If deemed to be unfit, they were sent back to wherever they
came from. On June 15, 1897 the building caught fire and burned to the ground. Edward
Lippincott Tilton and William A. Boring won the 1897 competition to build the
first phase of the new station. They built the Main Building, the Kitchen and
Laundry Building, the Main Powerhouse, and the Main Hospital Building.
When the station reopened on December 17, 1900 the
government estimated that there would be 5,000 immigrants a day processed on Ellis
Island. The island proved that it was unable to do so when a large flood of
immigrants came pouring in before World War I. The island processed more than 12
million immigrants from January 1, 1892, to November 12, 1954 so the government
and carpenters were constantly struggling to enlarge and build new facilities
to accommodate this greater than anticipated influx of new immigrants. This was
an instrumental part of the nation’s history. The immigrants usually spent 2 to
5 hours being processed and were generally asked 29 background questions.
After World War I, the United States began to emerge as a
potential world power and established embassies all over the world. The
prospective immigrants now applied for their visas at American consulates in
their countries of origin. After 1924, Ellis Island was no longer primarily an
inspection station but rather a detention facility. During the World War II the
island served a multitude of purposes, primarily as a detention center during
World War II, for alien enemies, those considered to be inadmissible and
others. After the last detainee, a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne
Peterssen was released in November 1954, the Ellis Island officially closed.
The island fell onto hard times after it was close as the
buildings went to waste for years until finally it was made a part of the
Statue Of Liberty Monument and added to the National Register of Historic
Landmarks 12 years after its closing. The museum opened on September 10, 1990, in
the restored Main Building. There are many different exhibits you can visit
while in the museum as well as films you can see while there. Ellis Island is a
great place to visit and see one of our nation’s most historic landmarks.
Before the island became an official home to the First
Federal immigration station, due the island’s rich history many different names
were attached to it. The local Indian tribes called it “Kioshk,” or Gull Island,
during the Dutch and English colonial periods it was known as Oyster Island, in
the time when Samuel Ellis became the island's private owner in the 1770s, the
island had been called Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking and Anderson's Island. In
1760 some pirates were executed at the island and it became known as Gibbet
Island. In the late 1700s Fortifications to protect the harbor in case of war
were built at Ellis Island. In 1808 the Federal government officially purchased
Ellis Island from New York State in 1808. During the War of 1812, the island
had a battery, a powder magazine and a barracks (the powder magazine remained
until 1890), and was called Fort Gibson in honor of an officer who was killed
in the war. Fort Gibson served many purposes during the early 1800s. Before it
was used as a military post by the Army and the Navy during the Civil War, the
island served as a military solely for munitions storage.