Ellis Island

Ellis Island (2)

The first step to reaching Ellis Island is by boarding the ferry and enjoying the 20-minute trip as you move away from Manhattan and approach the mythical "Island of Hope and Tears".

A small island, it belonged to the federal immigration service and welcomed all of the immigrants arriving in New York. In total, between 1892 and 1924, more than 12 million people set foot in the United States for the first time on this island. Men, women and children, including famous characters such as the genius Albert Einstein, the composer Irvin Berling or the film director Frank Capra.

But... Why did Ellis Island become the main customs house of the city? 

The events date back to the late 19th century, when the United States experienced a wave of violent attacks against immigrants, which in some cases led to murder. A powerful xenophobic movement had arisen within American society and the state was forced to take strict measures to bring the situation under control. The solution was to turn Ellis Island into the customs house, which received and inspected immigrants wishing to enter New York. Those accepted had the doors to the city opened to them and those rejected were deported.

In 1954, with the standardisation of the immigration system, the island was finally closed. It is estimated that the grandparents and great-grandparents of more than 40% of Americans residing in the United States today passed through the island.

In 1965, Ellis Island was declared a National Monument that includes the Statue of Liberty and, since then, it is used exclusively for tourism.

The main building is the only one open to the public and houses the touching Immigration Museum. A museum that chronicles immigration from the initial difficulties to the success of integration, 

through exhibitions, photographs, audiovisuals and real-life testimonies.

During the tour you will experience first-hand the route followed by millions of immigrants before knowing whether they would be allowed access to the United States. You will cross the baggage hall, the large waiting room and finally the registration hall, where inspectors subjected immigrants to strict medical and legal controls in order to pick out any undesirables. A letter, chalked on the back, indicated any deficiencies: polygamists, criminals, anarchists or carriers of infectious diseases. 

Before leaving, we recommend you see the documentary "Island of hope, Island of Tears" to learn more about the history of those hard years, and visit the Wall of Honor, which offers great views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan island.

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