Posted on Nov 21, 2021 15
ELLIS ISLAND - THE STORY OF TEARDROP ISLAND
Located just off the mainland of New York, Ellis Island has become a symbol of the history of the 19th and 20th century wave of immigration to the United States. In 1892, authorities built a port of entry on the small island, which some 12 million immigrants passed through until its closure in 1954. Today, Ellis Island is a popular tourist attraction in the metropolis of millions.
TODAY ELLIS ISLAND IS A MUSEUM
From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island meant the gateway to a new, better world for millions of immigrants. The island, in the Hudson River harbor area between New York City and New Jersey, was the port of call for up to 12,000 people a day during this period, who associated their entry into the United States with hopes of a better life. People who are politically persecuted, excluded because of their religion or affected by poverty land by ship at the immigration office set up by the U.S. on Ellis Island. Here, they have to face the strict controls of the officials.
Since 1965, the 11.1-hectare island, together with the Statue of Liberty, has had the status of a memorial site as part of the “Statue of Liberty National Monument”. Since 1990, the island and the “Ellis Island Museum of Immigration” built on it can also be visited by the public.
THE HISTORY OF TEAR ISLAND BEGINS
In 1890, immigration numbers to the United States increase enormously. The government, therefore, uses Ellis Island at the southern tip of Manhattan as a central drop-off point for immigrants. In order to create enough space for the crowds and the required buildings, a large part of the originally smaller island is artificially filled in and laid out during this period. 18 outbuildings can be found on Ellis Island, as well as a large main building and a reception building.
Initially, the facility accommodates up to 500,000 immigrants per year. But at the peak of the immigration wave in 1907, more than twice that number, some 1.3 million immigrants, are processed at Ellis Island.
And authorities here register more than just potential immigrants. The refugees, most of whom come from Europe, are medically examined. Many people fail the tests; for them, the dream of a new life in the U.S. is shattered. Hence, the nickname “Isle of Tears” establishes itself for the station.
THE END OF THE GREAT MIGRATION WAVE
In 1924, a law called the Immigration Act limits immigration in the USA. In the following years, the number of people arriving on the island drops sharply, and during World War II, its function as an entry point is temporarily suspended. During this time, Ellis Island was to be used as a military hospital and staging area for U.S. soldiers. After the war, the U.S. briefly restarts the immigration office, but closes it permanently in 1954.
According to a 2000 census, about 40 percent of Americans have ancestors who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island.
DECAY AND RECONSTRUCTION OF A LANDMARK
After the closing of the immigration office, many of Ellis Island’s imposing buildings fall into disrepair. Facilities are looted or reclaimed by nature. Then, in 1965, authorities decide to pay tribute to Ellis Island’s history by granting it national monument status. However, because there was a brief response to the investment in restoring the buildings, those responsible implemented many reconstruction measures only half-heartedly or not at all. It was not until 1982 that foundations and appeals for donations breathed new life into the historic site. Millions flowed into the reconstruction of Ellis Island, which reopened as the Ellis Island Museum on September 10, 1990. In 1993, a bronze statue is also erected on the island in honor of the first immigrant, Annie Moore. Since then, the national monument has attracted up to two million tourists annually.
Ellis Island can be reached today from the southern tip of Manhattan. Ferries operate from Battery Park and Liberty State Park in Jersey City and offer the possibility to combine the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island with a visit to Ellis Island.
Conclusion: because of its historic past, Ellis Island is still a popular destination for tourists in New York City. Even though parts of the historic grounds are still in disrepair, the island and its buildings have lost none of their original charm. Today, the national monument is popular with photographers, especially as a subject.