A Place to Celebrate Immigrants

Statue of Liberty

“Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….”

Ellis Island

Between 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million people immigrated to the United States through the portal of Ellis Island. It had in 1890 been designated by President Benjamin Harrison as the first federal immigration station. When it opened on Jan 1, 1992, Annie Moore, an Irish teenager travelling with her two brothers, became the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island.

Arrivals at Ellis Island could expect to spend three to five hours there during the inspection process. Only about two percent of the people who arrived were turned away. Those that were turned back were believed to have an infectious disease, were judged likely to become a public charge, or had been engaged as an illegal contract laborer.

Ellis Island

Registry Room

The first stop for immigrants arriving at Ellis Island was the Registry Room. It has been restored to the way that it appeared in 1918.

Mental exam

Part of the inspection that immigrants were given at Ellis Island was a mental acuity test like the one above. Here they were asked to identify the identical images.

Hearing room

Immigrants who were being held for a legal hearing were sent here.

telegram

Jersey City Terminal

The next stop for most was the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City. More than 10 million immigrants entered the country through here.

Wall of Honor

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor currently lists the names of more than 700,000 perople who immigranted to the U.S.

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28 Responses to A Place to Celebrate Immigrants

  1. What a fabulous picture post-Ken! I wonder if my grandparents names are on that Wall of Honor. You’ve made me want to visit there to see. I have their immigrant papers; well ancestry website did.

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    • Ellen Hawley says:

      As I understand it, names are only put up if someone pays for it. I found my grandfather’s name, but since as far as I know no one in the family coughed up any money for it I’m guessing it’s someone else by the same name. Still, it sent a chill down my spine to see what is still his name remembered there. (My grandmother’s name wasn’t there.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lenie5860 says:

    Ken, I’m a big reader and I love those series that talk about families arriving in the US. Of course,many of them talked about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island and all the emotions, fear, hope, excitement, etc. But while I read about Ellis Island I have never before seen a photo of it and I want to thank you for sharing this. It will add another dimension to my reading from here on in. Pretty impressive place as was the New Jersey Rail Terminal.

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  3. Donna Janke says:

    Great photos of Ellis Island. I imagine it is quite a moving experience to visit this place, especially if you have ancestors who came through here.

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  4. Great pictures of Ellis Island. We were there 5 years ago. Coming from two parents that were immegriants , I feel all these people are so brave to come here with the hopes to improve their lives. It’s very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erica says:

    I love the picture of the exhausted small children who were understandably tired from such a long trip. So funny to think those kids went on to be someone’s grandparents with their story to tell. I believe both sides of my family came over in the 1800s but I’m not sure when or if they came through Ellis Island.

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  6. Joseph Nebus says:

    I admit that New Jersey’s persistent squabbling on behalf of more rights to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is unseemly. However, New York … well. I reduced my love to fits of gasping laughter by advising, “Enter the phrase ‘cornelius vanderbilt new jersey must be free’ into Google”, and my love learned some of the history between the states.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. heraldmarty says:

    Great photos. My great, great grandparents came from England and transited through Ellis Island and settled in New York. I’ve always been fascinated by it and still hope one day to be able to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good pictures. Most likely we will get something similar in Europe now because of the refugee crisis. Would be good if the US “opened Ellis Island agai”n to take some responsibility for invading Iraq:-)

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  9. Phoenicia says:

    What a grand, stunning building with high ceilings!

    I wonder what was going through the minds of the immigrants arriving in America with their life ahead of them. Were they scared, excited, overwhelmed?

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    • Ken Dowell says:

      Tired as well. I think it must have been pretty intimidating going through all the tests.I used to think Ellis Island must have been a pretty scary place but when you consider what many peoples’ attitudes towards immigrants are today, maybe it was actually a pretty welcoming place.

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  10. Another reason to get back to NYC for a visit. Great pictures, Ken. Like you, my ancestors did not come through Ellis. They came in in the 1700s, so who knows where they landed? When I retire, I’ll figure that out. My brother-in-law’s (Italian) grandparents would be on those lists–I wonder about the wall. What started that?

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    • Ken Dowell says:

      The wall is actually a fundraiser for the museum. It includes the names all immigrants not just those who arrived at Ellis Island. Costs $150 to have a name listed and includes one-year museum membership. You can search the passenger lists of the people who arrived at Ellis Island at the Ellis Island web site.

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  11. Thank you for this post. When I was in NYC over Thanksgiving in 2012, I was able to take a harbor cruise but not tour Ellis Island. I only got to see the main building as the boat bobbed in the water. The same with the Statue of Liberty as well. If I remember correctly it was because of water damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

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  12. Andy says:

    I am tempted to go off on a rant about the ultrahypocrisy of the anti-immigrant crowd and how the Sioux, Navajo, Cherokee, etc. should be given dictatorial powers to kick it out of the country, but somehow that doesn’t seem appropriate, so let me see if I can come up with something more positive

    This post and its photos made me think of the scene toward the end of Moscow on the Hudson – good film, if you haven’t seen it – in which a group of immigrants are sworn in as citizens of America: I’m not really a ‘patriotic’ guy (at least by most people’s definition) but still found it heartwarming.

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    • Ken Dowell says:

      I also had to restrain myself from making snarky comments about the wall builders. I’ll never understand how people who are descended from immigrants who risked everything to come here and start a new life can turn around and try to deny others that opportunity.

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  13. Thank you very much for this informative and timely post, Ken. I do think we all need to be reminded that most of us come from immigrant stock, whether it was within the last 10 years or the last 100 years. I think for that reason, we need to keep our minds and hearts open to those who are now fleeing their homeland–just as my grandparents did at the turn of the 20th Century.

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    • Ken Dowell says:

      So many of us have parents, grandparents, great grandparents who risked everything to come here and build a new life for themselves. What would they think if their descendents wanted to deny others that same opportunity?

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  14. Ken, what a fabulous pictures of Ellis Island. I cant wait to visit Newyork in January.
    Thanks for this post. I bet it was a moving experience to visit this place

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jason @ TheButlerJournal.com says:

    I had heard of Ellis Island before, but I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t remember much about it. This post helped me earn a lot.

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  16. Great pictures. I went to Ellis Island a few years ago. I was humbling to see the names of all the people who came through there. Makes you wonder if they made it, did they find the land of opportunity and freedom they were seeking?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is such an excellent post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  18. pjlazos says:

    All of my grandparents were immigrants who came through New York and I still haven’t made it to Ellis Island. Thanks for this enlightening post, Ken.

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  19. Ken, this is a fantastic post. It’s a fine reminder to us that our country belongs to all nationalities and all nationalities belong here. None of us would be here, except for the Native Americans, if it weren’t for immigration.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Great post, I kept picturing my grandparents coming thru Ellis Island.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the images and text…..it gives me motivation to visit the Ellis Island.

    Liked by 1 person

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