Ellis Island was the busiest immigration station in the United States from 1892 to 1954. It is located in Upper New York Bay, and while the majority of the island is in New Jersey, some of it is also within New York’s borders. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the area provided a significant food source for the Lenape due to the abundance of oyster banks in Upper New York Bay. When the Dutch arrived, Ellis, Liberty, and Black Tom Islands were renamed Oyster Islands. Before Sam Ellis bought it during the American Revolution, Ellis Island had several names. The island was leased in 1794 and eventually ceded to the United States in 1808. It was a military post before becoming an immigration station.
Interesting facts about Ellis Island:
Little Oyster Island, Dyer’s Island, Bucking Island, Gibbet Island, and finally Ellis Island have all been given names.
In the 1760s, pirates were hanged on Ellis Island.
The first immigration station, built on Ellis Island in 1892, was destroyed by fire in 1897. Prior to its destruction, approximately 1.5 million immigrants were processed there.
Prior to the opening of Ellis Island’s Immigration Station, immigrants were processed at the Castle Garden Immigration Depot in lower Manhattan, located across the bay. There were approximately 8 million processed there.
The busiest year on Ellis Island was 1907. In that year, 1,004,756 immigrants were processed there.
Approximately 2% of those who attempted to enter the United States through Ellis Island were denied entry. Disease, insanity, and a criminal record were among the reasons given for refusal.
Because of the large number of people who were denied entry, Ellis Island was also known as ‘Heartbreak Island’ and ‘The Island of Tears.’
The government required immigrants to have at least $18 to be admitted to the United States at Ellis Island. This was done so that they could support themselves while settling in the United States.
During and after WWII, the island was used to detain approximately 7,000 Japanese, Italians, and Germans suspected of spying or sabotage.
Famous entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, and Rudy Vallee entertained detained aliens and servicemen on Ellis Island.
It is estimated that approximately 40% of all American citizens today can trace their ancestors back to Ellis Island.
The dining room in the Immigration Station on Ellis Island could seat 1,000 people at once.
Immigrants were required to answer 29 questions in order to enter the United States.
There was a false rumor that new immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island were forced to take new names even if they didn’t want to.
The medical center at Ellis Island’s Immigration Station was known as U.S. Marine Hospital No. 43 The initial examination lasted about six seconds.
If an immigrant is deemed medically inadmissible, some will remove the chalk marks on their clothing that indicate their inadmissibility and enter anyway.
Annie Moore, a 15-year-old Irish girl, was the first to arrive at Ellis Island.