Immigration into the United States was permitted through three major ports namely, Castle Garden, Ellis Island, and Boston. The significance of Ellis Island is that it admitted more than 20 million immigrants to date, between the years 1892-1924. It is situated in the Upper New York Bay area, alongside Jersey City (New Jersey) with Liberty State Park to its east, and Liberty Island to its north.
Samuel Ellis' heirs gave up the island to the State of New York, before it fell into the hands of the Federal Government in the year 1808, who bought it for a price of $10,000.
Over the years, Ellis Island has seen the coming and going of not only legal immigrants and servicemen (during war), but illegal aliens from foreign countries who were scrutinized, put through detention, and ultimately deported to where they came from. The following sections of this Buzzle article give you some interesting facts about the Ellis Island.
Intriguing Ellis Island Facts
Ellis Island didn't always have the name of its owner affixed to it, where it was initially called Gull Island, Oyster Island, Anderson's Island, and Kioshk, to name a few. Samuel Ellis was a New York merchant who owned a tavern on the island, during the American Revolution.
Ellis island was an unimpressive size of just 3.3 acres, before being expanded to accommodate the oncoming influx of immigrants, to 27.5 acres. In 1890, the first Federal Immigration Station was built on this island, using landfill from the NY subway tunnels and the ballast of ships that docked at its harbor.
Annie Moore was the first to be admitted through the Immigration Station on Ellis Island, with her two younger brothers. She was of Irish origin and came to America to live with her parents, who were already there. The three children arrived on a Thursday evening on New Year's Eve, where the 14-year-old Annie turned 15 the following day (she and her brothers were done with the final immigration process). She was given a $10 gold coin as a welcome gesture upon arrival.
The Immigration Station at Ellis Island was made from Georgia pine, which unfortunately wasn't fireproof. The pine-constructed buildings were burnt to the ground on June 14, 1897, when a fire broke out quite unexpectedly, possibly due to faulty wiring. Records dating back to as far as 1855 were lost in the fire. The US Treasury made an official rule that all buildings on the island were to be made from fireproof materials only.
The Main Building was reopened for use on December 17, 1900, permitting through its doors a flood of immigrants of approximately 5000 a day. The number of immigrants entering Ellis Island weren't enough for the Main Building to hold, therefore undergoing major expansion projects in the years to follow.
Passengers on board the ships that brought immigrants from far and near, were looked over differently depending on which class of tickets they bought. First and second-class passengers weren't under close inspection (they were told to leave from the pier itself if they cleared both legal and health inspections), where those from third class were held back longer. The former kind of passengers were medically and legally checked on board, only those who were sick were sent to Ellis Island. The latter kind underwent extensive inspection, since officials believed that those who bought third-class tickets may have been carrying grave illnesses (the lower sections of the ship where they stayed, weren't the most hygienic of places). The sick were attended to at the Ellis Island hospital, and freed once they were fit to leave the island.
The Immigration Act was passed in 1924, outlining a quota basis that restricted the number of immigrants that entered the United States. They were to first pass the necessary legalities in consulates situated overseas, before being legally admitted by US officials. Ellis Island saw a decrease in the multitude of immigrants thereafter, turning into a center that assessed men and women who illegally entered the US, deporting them if they didn't meet law-abiding requirements.
The last person to be released from Ellis Island was a Norwegian merchant named Arne Peterssen, after which the doors of the Island were closed from further service.
It is now called the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, where it has admitted a bevy of visitors from its inception in the year 1976. The visits are restricted to the Main Building area. The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation Inc. restoration project in collaboration with the National Park Service, raised $160 million dollars through donations, to restore neglected, worn-out buildings on Ellis Island.
Ellis Island has witnessed a slew of eager-to-visit tourists and citizens, who wish to experience the greatness of this monumentally historic place. Currently, Ellis Island isn't open to any visitors since Hurricane Sandy hit New York in October, 2012.