Ellis Island in New York

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Ellis Island in New York

Ellis Island in New York is known to many as the island of immigration; here millions of immigrants were granted entrance to the United States to fulfil their American Dream. After all, America was the land of the free and home of the brave. Now you can visit the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration which is located on the island, to learn more about the history of immigration in the USA.

Buy your Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferry tickets here

Contents

Ellis Island in New York

The National Museum of Immigration on Ellis Island is housed inside the restored Main Building of a former immigration centre. This museum offers a unique view of American history through immigration and explores its importance and impact on today’s society.

Eric’s Visit in 30 minutes

After visiting the Statue of Liberty, you might not have so much time for Ellis Island. However, the museum is definitely worth a visit, and already in 30 minutes, you are able to get a better understanding of Ellis Island. Once you arrive by ferry, head straight to the museum. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is free to visit; all you need is the ferry ticket.

On the ground floor, you’ll find the Baggage Room. Start your tour by climbing up the stairs to the Registry Room, where people used to wait for immigration processing. Make your way across the hall to the West Wing. The wing has been restored to how it looked in the early 1920s.

Ellis Island in New York - Statue Cruises Ellis Island in New York - Registry Room

You’ll see step-by-step what all newcomers experienced on arrival and how the “undesirable” were screened out. You can even test to see if you’d pass the immigrant inspection, and see the mental health and intelligence tests used. Only able-bodied people willing to work and build the new nation were allowed.
Once you are done with the West Wing, head upstairs to see the Registry Room from the balcony above. Check out the photographs on display to see what the building has looked like over the years. On the left-hand side of the balcony, is a room where you can see what immigrant dormitories used to look like.

Eric’s Tip: “In the Ellis Island Museum at the Immigration History Center, there are computers where everyone can search the immigration archives. Do you know if you have any ancestors in the United States? You can search for them and find more information.”

Skip the Line Walking Tour

If you want to skip the queue and learn more about Ellis Island and Lady Liberty, then take the comprehensive guided tour. Not only will you be able to use the reserve line access to the ferry, but the knowledgeable guide will tell you a lot about the history of both islands in New York.

Book the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided tour here

Ellis Island in New York - Museum Ellis Island in New York - Immigrants

History of Ellis Island

What some might not know is that Ellis Island was only opened and used as a gateway for immigration in 1892. Up until then, for around 35 years, the New York State officials at Castle Garden in Battery Park were used to process over eight million immigrants. Around 2% of the immigrants were not granted entrance due to medical or other reasons, and for these reasons, the island is also known as The Island of Tears.

In 1965, Ellis Island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. An immigration museum was opened in 1990, housing documents after the summer of 1887 as those before were destroyed in a fire.

How to get to Ellis Island?

Ellis Island is only accessible by ferry. Ferries depart from Battery Park and make a loop, first stopping at the Statue of Liberty. Visiting Liberty Island and Ellis Island is very popular, so ferries have regular departures. Tickets for this ferry are included in the New York CityPASS and the Explorer Pass.

Ellis Island in New York Museum Entrance Ellis Island in New York - View to Manhattan

Practical Information

  • Location: Ellis Island is located in New York Harbor. The ferry departs from Battery Park in Downtown Manhattan and stops at the Statue of Liberty first.
  • Opening hours: Open daily except Thanksgiving and December 25. The first ferry departs from Battery Park at 8:30 or 9:00, depending on the season.
Buy your Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferry tickets here

 

Why is Ellis Island so famous?

Ellis Island is known to many as the island of immigration. Here millions of immigrants were granted entrance to the United States to fulfil their dreams.

What can you do on Ellis Island?

You can visit the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Read more about Ellis Island here.

What was the purpose of Ellis Island?

Ellis Island was used as a gateway for immigration from 1892 to 1924. Millions of immigrants entered the US through the island.

Is Ellis Island free to visit?

No, to visit Ellis Island, you need a ticket for the ferry, which also takes you to the Statue of Liberty.

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