ELLIS ISLAND

The immigration center in New York Bay

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cover new england

This is an extract of my article, with small photos. You will find the complete article with full-sized photos in my e-book View America: Mid Atlantic

In the travel series View America, this book describes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, points of interest and tourist attractions.

It is not a traditional travel story, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 120 full-sized photos.

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An immigration center

Between 1857 and 1892, eight million immigrants were processed at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in lower Manhattan, just across the bay. In 1890, the administration decided to use Fort Gibson as an Immigration Station instead. The island was greatly expanded with landfill between 1892 and 1934. With the excess soil from the excavations of the subway and Grand Central Station, the surface was extended to 11 acres (4.45 hectares), and 500,000 $ was spent on new immigrant buildings.

In 1892, the Immigration Center opened, with a staff of 500 to 850 people. In 1897 all the buildings were destroyed by fire, but by 1900 everything was rebuilt. This time the reconstruction cost one million dollars...

Ellis Island in 1905
Immigration Center in 1905

During the next fifteen years, the staff exercised an unbelievable climate of corruption and cruelty, and they were allowed to proceed arbitrarily and without any possible appeal. On an immense scale the immigrants were robbed and treated with contempt, women were raped, and children were mistreated. No administration, police, management or politician ever bothered to intervene...

In 1921, Ellis Island processed another 500,000 immigrants.

Ellis Island 3 Ellis Island 4

However, the call to restrict immigration grew louder in 1924, and a quota system was introduced. It required an initial investigation in the consulate of the country of origin, a procedure that remains the basis of the current immigration system.

In 1965 the island was transferred to the Statue of Liberty National Monument. They restored the buildings, and reopened them to the public in 1990.

Video : Immigration through Ellis Island

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