Ellis Island

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Article By: Dan Hill
12 days ago
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Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum Nature-Island

A bright new world - a land of possibilities, the opportunity to live what would become known as the American Dream. Back in the old world of Europe, enterprising individuals and entire families dreamed of creating a brighter future for themselves - and America was seen as the place to head. Living conditions in Europe in the 1800s were affected by economic uncertainty, religious persecution and an unstable political landscape. Prior to 1890, the individual states in the US policed their own immigration policies - and in New York State, this was carried out at Castle Clinton (formerly Castle Garden), from 1855 onwards. Some 8 million Europeans, mostly from the northern climes - passed through the state's administration facilities to settle into their new lives. As the Federal Government moved in to standardise immigration, the 27.5 acre Ellis island (a former naval magazine) was chosen as the location to build the new landing facility. The facility including quarantining facilities - in an attempt to prevent the new arrivals bringing disease from Europe with them. In 1892, the first year of operation, some 400,000 new immigrants arrived at the new facility. Inspection facilities screened arrivals for signs of both physical and mental illness. Approximately 1% of those who were screened were deemed to have failed the requirements for entry and were sadly scheduled for deportation back across the Atlantic. The buildings you see today are in fact the second incarnation of the immigration centre - the first wooden buildings (themselves having processed 1.5 million arrivals) having burnt to the ground in 1897 - including all of the immigration records. The second immigration centre, which opened in 1900, went on to process a further 12 million immigrants up to the year of 1921. After 1921, arrival inspections were carried out on the arriving boats themselves - and Ellis island was relegated to a detention centre for migrants. I visited the Ellis Island museum back in 2006, but the memorable experience has stuck with me to this day. I took the audio guide option - which was excellent - and it added an extra dimension to the learning experience. To think of the boats arriving, loaded with passengers seeking a new life in America, after a gruelling voyage across the Atlantic - only to face uncertainty as to whether they would be allowed in - evokes the emotions. Sadly, some of those turned away took their own lives rather than face the return journey. Entry to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National museum is free - however getting there is not. Only one vendor is permitted to drop passengers at the islands - Statue Cruises - and tickets must be obtained directly from them (ignore all non-authorised street vendors who overcharge, and sell fake tickets). For tickets, see: https://www.statuecruises.com/. Children under 3 are free on the ferry, but ages 4-12 cost $9. The ferry departs from both Castle Clinton in Battery Park (NYC) and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Arrive in plenty of time! Image Credits: 1. by Chris Engel from Pixabay 2. By Unknown author - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a14957.
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  • Ellis Island, United States
  • Boat
    Standard 19.25 USD
    Kids 0.00 USD Under 3
    Seniors 14.00 USD
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    Physical 0
    Culture 4
    Fun 0
    Education 5
  • Tags
    Rainy day
    Family friendly
    Tourist must-do

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