Today, sixty-three years have passed since Ellis Island was closed (12 November 1954) by the American immigration authorities and I think its history was so interesting that it is worth telling you a few things more or less known. The Statue of Liberty was one of the sights I did not want to miss during my New York vacation. When I bought the ticket, I found there was an optional stop on Ellis Island, so I chose to visit it. It was one of the best choices we had made! And to better understand what is on this island, I will begin with its history.
In 1630, the Indians called it ‘Kioshk’ or “island of gulls” because it was populated only by them, and the Dutch, the “island of oysters”. During the American Revolution, the island was bought by Samuel Ellis, a New York merchant. In 1808, New York State bought it from his family for 10,000$, and at the end of the year U.S. War Department pays the state for the right to use Ellis Island to build military fortifications and store ammunition, beginning during the War of 1812. Finally it become the first federal immigration station in 1892.
Few people know that since 1925, the island was a detention center for those suspected of being communists or undesirable persons and even fewer know that between 1907 and 1910 the famous mayor La Guardia worked as translator on the island. The current museum was opened in 1990 and receives three million visitors each year.
The immigrants stories who had just arrived on the island with the hope of a better future are objectively presented. After the hard journey, these people did not cease to hope, and that’s why Ellis Island became “the island of hope”. Most succeeded, but for others, Ellis Island was their last destination on this earth. It is said that around 3500 immigrants died, of which 1400 were children. In the museum, people of different nationalities read the information about their countrymen. When we talk about the “American dream,” we have in mind only the successful experiences, but we do not realize that for many others it was a chimer. The museum is structured to resonate with the events and experiences of the past. From place to place, “an anchor is thrown at present”. Introspection, problem-solving, case study are widely used and maybe this is one of the reason people read the huge amount of information. I liked a tree with words from the immigrants and american indians language that are now in the American dictionary.
I was also impressed by the “Baggage Room” and “Great Hall”. The emigrants left their luggage and went to the “Great Hall” for medical inspection. This was very rigorous, and there were situations where some families were falling apart, as children or adults became ill during the long trip to America. Shipping conditions at 3rd and 4th class were awful. All the patients were taken to the hospital where they were being cared for. I also liked it because these sad stories were counterbalanced by success stories. So I found out that the first immigrant who stepped on Ellis Island was Annie Moore, a little girl from Ireland, along with her brother to join their parents in New York. Surprisingly only the 3rd and 4th class passengers arrived on the island, the other ones were unloaded in Manhattan if they were healthy.
Each of the persons who passed through the immigration station on Ellis Island helped shape the history and culture of the United States.
Last but not least, Ellis Island offers gorgeous views of New York City.
Dear reader, if your ancestors entered in U.S.A., via Ellis island, please, if you want, let a short message at ‘Leave a reply”.
Have a happy life!