SOL National Monument: Ellis Island

The Great Hall/Registry Room in the Museum of Immigration


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Ellis Island is a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, but is its own island with its own history and worthy of separate exploration. Twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island for over 60 years starting in 1892.

IMG_4842When you buy a ticket on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, it includes a stop at Ellis Island. Most folks just stay on the boat, itching to get to the main attraction. Lady Liberty is inspirational, the symbol of our collective hopes and dreams. But there is something pretty awesome about walking the halls where our ancestors first set foot on American soil.

IMG_4830I have been here several times before. The first time, a friend sneaked me aboard a park ranger boat so I could see the main building, still under renovation at the time, before it was open to the public.

Thirty years later, I was back with a photography group and signed up for the hard hat tour of the south side of the island. After a quick run through the Museum of Immigration, I met up with the group at the back of the park where a guide took us through the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. These buildings housed the quarantined arrivals. They are in bad repair…poison ivy and decay have reclaimed much of the structures. A private organization is raising funds to preserve as much as they can.

On many of the surfaces French artist JR has installed (in conjunction with the Save Ellis Island group) black and white murals of immigrants derived from photos of the period. They are life-size and lend an eerie, haunted feeling to the place.

Location: Jersey City & New York City

Designation: National Monument

Date NPS designation declared: 5/11/1965

Date of my visit: 5/15/2016


11 thoughts on “SOL National Monument: Ellis Island

    1. If you come back, be sure to reserve the tix ahead of time online, especially if you want to climb to the crown of the statue. There are a lot of con artists in lower manhattan selling tickets to the Statue.

  1. Great post and photos! It’s amazing to walk the same halls of twelve million immigrants. Hopefully, the private organization will be able to raise the funds to preserve the hospital.

  2. Pingback: National Parks USA Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

  3. Pingback: Statue of Liberty National Monument: Museum | National Parks With T

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