Opened in 1892, Ellis Island has seen over 12 million immigrants to the United States until it’s closure in 1954, making it the busiest port of entry in the country at that time.
The island was named after the last private owner of the island, Samuel Ellis.
Ellis Island’s south side contains 25 buildings that are mostly unrestored. These structures included general hospitals, isolation and psychiatric wards for immigrants needing treatment or isolation.
The American Immigrant Wall of Honor on the grounds outside the great hall and is inscribed with over 700,000 names of immigrants to this country.
The wall represents names from virtually every nationality and from every inhabited continent on the face of the earth. Those who endured forced migration from slavery are included, as are our own earliest settlers, the native American.
The famous are also present on this wall including Colonel John Washington, great-grandfather of George Washington, Myles Standish who landed at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower in 1620, Al Jolson, Rudolph Valentino, Harry Houdini, and many more.
Ellis Island’s Great Hall once hosted lines of immigrants awaiting processing and entry to the US. In 1986 this grand historic building was carefully restored to look as it once did a century ago. In September 1990, it was opened as a museum to the public.
The Great Hall was a former federal immigration processing station that was active between 1892 and 1954. Before it was opened for immigration processing, Castle Clinton in Battery Park served as the processing station from 1855 to 1890.
The museum exhibits on the three floors of the Great Hall chronicle Ellis Island’s role in immigration history across four centuries of immigration to America.
The exhibits also give voices to the immigrants themselves. Each of their stories is unique, and bears witness to the courage and determination that enabled them to leave their homes and seek new opportunities in an distant land.