An Afternoon At Ellis Island

Hi friends, welcome back! I’m picking up today’s post right where I left off on the Statue of Liberty Post. Jon and I hopped back on the ferry for a five-minute ride from the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island. I was very interested to see Ellis Island because I had learned so much about it in school but had only seen it from afar. Immigrants sailed from all over the world and landed right where I stepped off the ferry to learn their fate of either becoming a US citizen, or repeating the treacherous journey back to their point of origin.

The Main Arrivals Building of Ellis Island was transformed and opened into a museum in 1990 after a $156 million dollar restoration. We were not able to access other parts of the island, but that is where the hospitals, psych ward, and employees quarters were located. The island was also used by the US Army during the World Wars.

We entered the museum and this part of the building was originally the luggage room. All of the immigrant’s belongings would be stored here when they first arrived and went through inspections. This area now has the museum information desk, gift shop, and informational exhibits.

Next, we headed upstairs to where the immigrants passed through medical inspection. They were tagged with chalk and detained for further inspection if the inspectors believed they were unfit to be in America. One of the grossest things I learned was the inspectors used a button hook to inspect the eyelids of everyone to check for trachoma, an infectious eye disease. Sounds extremely painful and unsanitary!

This room was beautiful but eerily quiet because of Covid. At its peak, it’s estimated that 1,900 people passed through here per day.

This is one of the rooms the detained immigrants slept in, hard to imagine how crammed it must’ve been in here.

This is the courtroom where some people’s fates were decided.

We finished off the day with some beautiful views of the city!

I would love to go back and get a tour one day, we only scratched the surface of all the history at Ellis Island. There is also a fence with names of everyone that passed through, but we didn’t have time to find any ancestors. Next time!

I would highly recommend visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I would not say it’s a tourist trap, and you can learn so much history while enjoying some amazing sights!

18 thoughts on “An Afternoon At Ellis Island

  1. Is the climb inside closed because of Covid19? Perhaps the climb is corny but WE LOVED it. You do stairs to the base and then elevator to the crown. If you are taking the ferry from New Jersey, skip the stop to Ellis Island so you can line up at the Statue on the 2nd stop. Then you can backtrack to Ellis Island. It is a long day in the summer with crowd but we loved it.

    1. It definitely exceeded my expectations, maybe next time you will have to come to NYC for a few weeks and check it out 🙂

  2. Interesting visit. When you think about today’s polemics on immigration, the criticisms seem quite irrelevant compared to the procedures of the past. I saw groups visiting the rest of the island with a guide and wearing a helmet (?). But I haven’t looked for more information.

    1. For sure, I can’t imagine what they went through during more medical inspections! I think the park rangers give tours during normal times

  3. The architecture of the main building is so majestic. I can’t imagine the anticipation of an immigrant waiting to learn his/her fate, having just spent weeks enduring the miserable journey across the ocean. If you saw “Brooklyn” this was a powerful scene. The main character practiced her appearance and her responses on the voyage, in preparation for her screening on Ellis Island.

  4. Looks amazing – so sad we didn’t get to visit Ellis Island on our last trip, definitely on the list for next time! Also I know I’m a bit late, but I loved your Halloween biscuits…I tried some but they were a disaster haha!

    1. Next time for sure!! By then you could get a tour so it would be even better 😀 haha they are hard to make!! It’s the thought that counts! 🎃

  5. I LOVE this museum soooo much. Though I do remember taking a nap during the movie clip they showed…only from exhaustion from shopping. lol This is one place I can go to over and over again 🙂

  6. Hey Lyssy, we’re also New Yorkers (though Aussies by birth). Great idea for a day trip during COVID. We have only docked at Ellis en route to the Statue of Liberty but didn’t have time to get off at the time (it was our first trip to NYC in 2009). Now, as migrants, we should go and pay our respects – especially now there’s the exciting changes ahead for 2021. Bernie and Jess Watt

    1. Hey Bernie & Jess – thanks for stopping by! You guys should defiantly make a trip to Ellis Island before the crowds come back, it’s a really cool place, especially as migrants. Very excited for the changes upcoming 🙂

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