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!