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Visit to the Ellis and Liberty Islands

May 22, 2019

Visit to the Ellis and Liberty Islands

Besides being the most populated city in the United States, New York City or the Big Apple is also famed for its numerous other attractions. It is home to iconic tourist spots such as the United Nations, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and many more. This tremendously fast paced and globally powerful city has been setting the trends in finance, technology, education, entertainment, art, culture, and fashion since a very long time. No history of New York City, however, is complete without the Ellis Island. Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island served as the US immigration station, where countless immigrants had to wait for the paperwork to be completed for entry into the main land. Every year, countless travellers visit the Ellis Island to witness this vital piece of American history.

So let’s take a sneak peek into what this island holds for you, and understand why it remains an unforgettable part of New York and the American history.

Entry point to America

For the first time in 1892, Ellis Island established itself as a federal immigration station, in Upper New York Bay.

It played this important role for over 60 years, before it closed down in 1954. During this period, countless newly arrived immigrants entered America through this station. As per estimates, almost 40 percent of the presently existing American citizens can trace their roots back to this island.

But on June 15, 1897, the immigration station was destroyed by an unexplained fire in the early morning, only five years after it was opened. The actual reason for this unfortunate incident never came to light though.

The Ellis Island came to be known as the “Island of Tears” after the fire. But most of the immigrants were treated with respect, courtesy and were allowed the opportunity to embark on their new lives in the US, after spending only a couple of hours on the island. Only as less as 2 percent of the immigrants were denied entry. This happened either because a doctor diagnosed the immigrant with a contagious disease dangerous for the public health, or because a legal inspector believed that a particular immigrant would become an illegal contract labourer or public charge.

It might interest you to know that on New Year’s Day in 1892, Ellis Island witnessed the arrival of immigrants for the first time. They came on the steamship called Nevada, which was carrying 124 passengers from Europe. Annie Moore, a teenage girl from County Cork, Ireland, was the first to step on the island. Along with her 7 and 11 years old brothers, she had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to reunite with her family in New York.

Things to see

In 1976, Ellis Island was opened for the public, and at present, visitors can tour the Immigration Museum in the Main Arrivals Hall which was restored. From the numerous immigrant arrivals records publicly available since 2001, visitors can also trace their ancestors if they wish. So naturally, every year, Ellis Island is thronged by millions of Americans who are keen to delve into the country’s history or their own family tree.

Except on 25th December, Ellis Island is open all the year long. And you can choose from two types of guided tours.

Either you can go for a 30-minute long Ranger Guided Tours, where you will be taken around the museum by a National Park Service Ranger and other sincere volunteers. Or you can opt for the 90-minute long special Hard Hat Tour of the Hospital Complex, where you will be guided through various areas of the 750-bed hospital.

Plan your tour

While you plan your visit to the Ellis and Liberty Islands, make sure you get on the Statue Cruises Ferry that leaves Battery Park or Liberty State Park. The ferry leaves by 1 pm. Please make sure you have extra time for security clearance, ferry boarding and ferry transportation when planning your trip. Make sure to carry enough amount of USD to your trip, provides USD at the best exchange rates.

Ellis island history
Ellis Island tips
Liberty foundation
Immigrants of Ellis Island


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