Ellis Island History
Ellis Island is often known as the home of the statue of liberty, but do you know the full history of the small island located in New York Harbor, just off the coast of New Jersey? If not, it’s time to read up on your Ellis Island history. The island actually had many names including Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking, and Anderson’s Island, before it was finally name Ellis Island. Before becoming an immigration station in 1892, the island was a fort during the War of 1812, making it one of the six parts of the harbor defense system.
Ellis Island history focuses around the immigration station began construction in 1890, when New York’s other immigration stations were deemed unfit for the amount of traffic entering the US. On January 2, 1892, the first immigrants were processed through at Ellis Island. Over 12 million other immigrants were processed over the next 62 years. However, only 5 years after opening, Ellis Island suffered a large fire, burning buildings and records of past immigrants. Three years later, the new, fireproof building opened its doors to 2,215 new immigrants on December 17, 1900.
Later, there were increased restrictions on immigration in the US. A few well-known restrictions included the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Alien Contract Labor Law, and a mandatory literacy test. Because of this, immigrant processing at Ellis Island greatly decreased. After WWI, US embassies began popping up all over the world, where immigrants would have to first apply for their visas and complete a medical examination. The only people who were then held at Ellis Island were those who had problems with their paperwork, war refugees, and those who were displaced.
As you can see, Ellis Island was not only an immigration station. During WWII, enemy merchant seamen were apprehended here. Also during this time at Ellis Island, the US coast guard trained about 60,000 servicemen. The Island officially closed in November of 1954, and in 1965 Ellis Island became an official part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, acknowledged by president Lyndon Johnson.
Ellis Island has since undergone major restoration; one project in 1984 costing $160 million. The main building reopened as a museum in 1990, and the other exhibits opened in 2011. The museum closed in October of 2012 because of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, but after renovation, it is now reopened to the public.
Ellis Island is a huge piece of our nation’s history. So what are you waiting for? Superior Tours is holding a tour special for Ellis Island on Thursday, October 16, 2014. For $91 per person, the trip includes round-trip transportation aboard our brand new luxury motor coach, a continental breakfast, an admission ticket to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and a dinner stop at Mastoris Diner (on your own). For reservations and more details, Call 410-602-1704 x100.