Ellis Island: Main Arrivals Building

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! 

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A significant number of Americans today (40-50%) can trace their ancestry to immigrants who first set foot in the USA on Ellis Island. Twelve million people were processed through Ellis Island in its 60 year history. All had to pass a brief medical and psychological screening before proceeding into NYC or New Jersey.

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I was recently invited on an extended tour of the hospital complex as part of a focus group for Save Ellis Island,  the non-profit fundraising group seeking to restore or arrest the decay of Ellis Island’s south side. Though I had covered the Main Arrivals Building in my previous post on the Museum of Immigration, I took a quick walk through for photos before my tour of the hospital began.

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Without the tourist crowds, I noticed some antique photos on display in the Registry Room that provided a nice contrast to seeing the room as it exists today. Back then, it teemed with throngs of hopeful people. In the early morning, before my tour began in 2020, it was a gleaming, cavernous space.

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I also found this interactive tour of Ellis Island by Scholastic. This tour is designed for teachers and provides a step by step journey from the immigrants’ point of view, complete with audio and video clips. It’s a great way to visit the monument if you can’t physically get there.

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Ellis Island Posts:

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Location: Jersey City & New York City

Designation: National Monument

Date designated or established: 5/11/1965

Date of my visit: 2/29/2020

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