Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.
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.
When 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.
I 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