How to Get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

This post will show you how to get to the Statue of Liberty, how to choose which ticket type (even free).  It also includes tips for pedestal and crown access as well as guided tours. For more than a century, the single most recognizable symbol of the United States of America, the Statue of Liberty, stands in New York Harbor.  Today, millions of second and third generation Americans claim that their forebears had entered the country through her embrace.  If you are a newcomer to New York City, or a local who weirdly hasn’t yet visited the statue and Ellis Island, this guide covers all the important information that you need to purchase Statue of Liberty tickets and to choose from the many tours to make a memorable visit. (en español)

TIP: Reserve only tickets are included at no extra cost with all of the major tourist discount passes.  


Ticket Information

Crown Access

Ellis Island

Things to Do in NYC

How to Get to Ferries

Pedestal Access

Guided Tours

Staten Island Ferry


 

 

HOW TO GET TO THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND

There is only one way to visit the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Museum and that is by ferries operated by Statue Cruises and there are two locations where you can take the ferry.  The vast majority of visitors to New York City will take the ferry from Lower Manhattan (see map below).  The closest subway stations are Bowling Green, which is accessed by the 4 and 5 trains and South Ferry Station, which is accessed by the 1 train.  You can also reach the ferry landing via Rector Street Station on the N and R Train, Wall Street Station on the 2 and 3 train and Broad Street Station J and Z trains.  We recommend that you use this link for directions to the Statue Cruises terminal.

Click the map for a larger map


How to get to the Statue of Liberty Ferry

 

You can also reach the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River at Liberty State Park in Jersey City (map). This is the only way to get to the island, as private vessels will not be permitted to dock at either site.

Tip: If you visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the morning from Manhattan, you should consider our 2 pm Lower Manhattan Walking Tour, or consider our audio tour version of this tour.

Will call and walk-up tickets are available at the ticket booths inside of Castle Clinton (image below).

 

Castle Clinton Ellis Island Ferry

 


SECURITY CHECK

Once you have your tickets, you will need to proceed to the security line which is just outside of the Castle Clinton structure.  The security is similar to airport security and the National Park Service recommends that you be flexible with your time, as the whole process can take a few hours, especially during peak times in the high season.  Once you pass through security, you will join another line to board the next available ferry.  If you have pedestal or crown tickets, there are additional security requirements.  


Pro Tip: If you are traveling during the peak season, we highly recommend that you plan to take the first ferry at 9:30 am, which is the same ferry that most guided tours take.


 

Security Line for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

 

Prohibited items include (from the National Park Service website):

  • ALL weapons, including firearms, any dangerous items, any “dual-use” items that could be dangerous. All of these items are strictly prohibited in the park and on the ferry system.
  • Scissors, sharp instruments and tools are also prohibited.
  • LARGE packages. suitcases, carry-on luggage, and other large parcels will not be permitted on the ferry systems or at Liberty and Ellis Islands.
  • Face masks and/or costumes which are designed to conceal the identity of a person are prohibited.

Any prohibited item that you surrender will not be returned to you, so be sure not to bring it with you.  It’s important to also be aware that there are no storage lockers in Battery Park or on either Liberty or Ellis Island.

 


HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO VISIT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND 

How much time you will need will depend much on what time of the year you are there and what time of day you choose. If you plan to visit both islands and take in all the sites you need to allow yourself enough time to see everything without having to rush through your day. While the ferry does accommodate both islands in one trip, you need to allow for a minimum of 5-6 hours in order for you to see everything. However, you’ll need to also factor in the approximate wait time of 90+ minutes during peak season and the amount of time for you to go through the security checkpoints as well.

While it is possible for you to see everything on one day, plan for it to be a very long day. The ride to the islands themselves should only take about 10 minutes to the first stop at Liberty Island. Whether you plan to visit the statue and museum there or not, you will be required to disembark and board another ferry to Ellis Island where you can expect to spend at least an hour to tour the museum. Make sure that when you leave from Ellis Island at the end of the day that you board the right ferry back. If you get on the wrong one you could end up back in Liberty Island, or in the wrong state altogether.

 


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TICKETS FOR THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

Technically, there is no cost to visit Liberty Island.  What you have to pay for is the ticket for ferry passage and whether or not you would like access to the statue’s pedestal or her crown, the latter has an additional fee.  All ticket types include the audio tour and Park Ranger talks as well as access to Ellis Island.  Tickets can be purchased at the website for Statue Cruises and can also be purchased on site (subject to availability). Please read the following information carefully. 
 

 


RESERVE ONLY 

Includes access to Liberty Island, but not to the pedestal or crown.  

  • $18.50 – Adult | $14 – Senior 62+ | $9 – Child 4-12 | Free – Child under 4.
  • Purchase tickets here.

** reserve only ticket are included in the City Pass, New York Pass and the Explorer Pass.  Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.  The same goes for bus company combination tickets.

 


RESERVE WITH PEDESTAL 

Same prices as above, but also includes access to the Liberty Island Museum located inside the statue’s pedestal.  It’s recommended that you order pedestal access in advance.  A very limited number of passes are available at the ticket offices early in the morning.  Read more on the pedestal.  

  • $18.50 – Adult | $14 – Senior 62+ | $9 – Child 4-12 | Free – Child under 4.
  • If you take a guided tour, pedestal tickets are guaranteed.

 


RESERVE WITH PEDESTAL AND CROWN 

Includes everything mentioned above with the addition of crown access. Tickets to access the crown MUST be purchased in advance tickets can be sold out months in advance.  Read below or visit the National Park Service’s webpage to learn about all of the restrictions on ticket purchase and access to the crown.  Read more on the crown.

  • $21.50 – Adult | $17 – Senior 62+ | $12 – Child 5-13
  • Children under 4 are not permitted to the crown.  
  • Only 4 crown reservations per order allowed.
  • Only 1 reservation per person per 6 months allowed.
  • Tickets are non-transferable.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY PEDESTAL TICKETS

The actual pedestal that was designed for the Statue is an amazing design feature. Designed specifically to show off Lady Liberty herself, it is approximately half the size of the statue. From the pedestal level, you’ll have some incredible views of Ellis Island, New York, New Jersey, and the New York Harbor altogether.

While the visit to the pedestal is free, advanced reservations are strongly suggested. There are a limited number of people that will have access to the pedestal at any given time so if you don’t make reservations ahead of time you may not be granted access.  (Guided tours include guaranteed pedestal access).

View from Statue of Liberty Pedestal

 

  • $18 – Adult | $14 – Senior 62+ | $9 – Child 4-12 | Free – Child under 4.
  • Purchase advanced pedestal tickets here.
  • If you take a guided tour, pedestal tickets are guaranteed.

The National Park Service does have some access restrictions:

  • No food, drinks or backpacks permitted.
  • No strollers.
  • No long umbrellas.
  • Lockers available to store bags and other belongings for an additional $2 per locker.
  • Visit the National Park Service’s website to read all the restrictions for access to the pedestal.

 


STATUE OF LIBERTY MUSEUM 

For those who have tickets to the pedestal or crown, you can also visit the Liberty Island Museum. Here you will get a blow by blow account of how the two countries worked together to establish their place in the world as a symbol of freedom and how the Statue of Liberty was used to represent that ideal. The Liberty Island Museum will explain how those images have changed over the years since the statue was first erected and what it means to many people today. Watch this short video below to get a better sense of what there is to see at the Statue of Liberty Museum.
 

 


STATUE OF LIBERTY CROWN TICKETS 

Most people who visit the statue are keen to climb to the very top of the crown. If this is your plan make sure that you’re able to handle the climb, as there is no elevator. The walk to the crown is equivalent to climbing 22 flights of stairs but it will be well worth the effort if you can make it (that’s 154 steps in a closed spiral staircase) and 377 total steps from the main lobby. At the top, you will have the privilege of seeing the incredible panoramic views of the majestic New York City skyline with limited views of Brooklyn along with the actual framework designed by Gustave Eiffel used to support the Lady herself.

View from the Statue of Liberty Crown

 

The Crown does have access restrictions.  Below are most, but please visit their webpage for a complete list.

  • Adults must show photo id.
  • Lockers available to store bags and other belongings.
  • Only 1 camera per person is permitted into the crown.
  • Children must be at least 4′ (1.2 m) tall.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND TOURS 

As stated above, there is only one cruise company that is able to drop guests off on Liberty Island: Statue Cruises.  Each ferry ticket entitles you to an audio tour, which is offered in multiple languages as well as U.S. Park Ranger (and volunteer) guided tours of both Liberty and Ellis Island. However, there are a handful of walking tour companies who offer guided tours of Liberty and Ellis Island, which include your ticket for the ferry and pedestal access.  Each of these services is very highly rated and fairly priced. Expect ticket costs to range from $50-$70 on average, unless you catch one of our pay-what-you-wish tours.

 

 

There are also a number of other boat tour companies that cruise past the Statue of Liberty, and provide commentary on board. Check out our post detailing the specific boat companies that offer Statue of Liberty cruises so to help decide which is best for you.  If you are planning on purchasing one of the discount tourist passes, keep in mind that they also include several boat cruises.  Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.
 
 

 
From time to time, we (Free Tours by Foot) offer a pay-what-you-wish Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour, with pedestal access.  This tour does not run regularly, but be sure to check out our tour page for scheduling.  Below are a few companies that offer similar tours.  All tours guarantee pedestal access.

 


New York Tour 1

Don’t be fooled by the generic name – this is actually one of the most trustworthy tour services in NYC. In addition to offering a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, they also provide a combo tour to both Lady Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial as well as a tour that includes walks in Midtown and Lower Manhattan with a visit to Top of the Rock. The opportunities offered by this company are perfect for anyone who wants to see the most patriotic landmarks in the city. You may have to pay more for the experience, but you’ll also have the chance to visit different locations and avoid overbooking!

With an average rating of between 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (see the reviews), it’s clear that each of these tour packages is well received by most customers. Their Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour is especially well received, as only a handful of reviewers have had anything negative to say about their service. Many reviews describe the experience as amazing, stating that the tour guides working for this company are quite excellent. These trips are popular among pretty much all audiences, so you’ll want to reserve your tickets as soon as possible.

Below are their tours that include the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Most of these tours are available year round. Click here to see their full selection of guided NYC tours.

 


Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

Fully guided tour from beginning to end.

  • Ticket Prices: $57 for Adults | $49 for Children
  • Includes pedestal access.
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Daily @8:30 am

 


9/11 Memorial Tour + the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

This tour differs from the tour listed above, in that it includes a guided walking tour of Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and then a self-guided tour (with skip-the-line privileges) of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  

  • Ticket Prices: $59 – Adult | $49 – Child
  • Includes pedestal access.
  • Duration: 3-5 hours (2 hour narrated tour included)
  • Daily @9 am

 


6 Hour NYC Highlights Tour

This tour combines walking tours of Midtown and Lower Manhattan with visits to the Top of the Rock observation Deck, Grand Central Terminal and a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with pedestal access.  You will use the NYC subway on this tour.

  • Ticket Prices: $69 – Adult | $59 – Child
  • Includes pedestal access.
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Daily @9:30 am

 


Walks of New York

As you can no doubt imagine, this company does a variety of walking tours around New York City. When it comes to their Statue of Liberty tours, there are several combo packages that are far more extensive than anything offered by their competitors. They also provide a Twisted Statue tour which seeks to give guests an entirely different perspective on this world famous landmark. Although the price of admission for some of these trips is fairly high, they might just be worth it for anyone new to NYC.

Each Statue of Liberty tour and combo deal offered by Walks of New York has received a 4 ½ out of 5 stars or better rating on TripAdvisor. Reviews for their Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour are especially positive, with less than half a dozen negative comments on record. Most guests feel that their tour guides are both informative and helpful providing an excellent overall experience. If possible, the more extensive tour packages are even better rated, and customers seem genuinely impressed with their service. These trips are popular among all audiences, and group sizes can be limited. We recommend making reservations ahead of time.

Most tours run from January – October. Kids under 3 can join their parents for free!  We have only listed a couple of their tours below.  Click here to see their full selection of guided tours.

 


Small Group Early Access Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

This option promises that your group will be no larger than 20 total participants.  

  • Ticket Prices: $57 for Adults | $47 for Children
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Most days @8:30 am or 9 am

Twisted Statue Tour: Under the Skirt of Lady Liberty

An irreverent twist on a guided tour. This tour is a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty, where you will hear about stories not generally mentioned in history books.  Includes a self-guided tour of Ellis Island.

  • Ticket Prices: $49 for Adults | $46 for Children
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays @8:30 am (additional days available during summer months)
  • More information or to book online.

 


Park Ranger Led Tours

Park Rangers can provide English-language guided tours throughout the day. They can give you an overall history of the island and the statue explaining many details about its symbolism, construction, and restoration over the years. These tours can last anywhere from 30-45 minutes and come at no additional cost.  You can find your Park Ranger tour guide at the Liberty Island Flagpole located outside of the Statue.  For more information on the free Ranger tours, visit http://www.nps.gov/elis/planyourvisit/guidedtours.htm.

 


Self Guided Audio Tours

If you’re more comfortable going on your own, you can also take advantage of the self-guided tours available on both islands. These audio tours are automatically included with every ticket purchase and are available in a number of different languages including Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. The National Park Service also offers a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty.

 


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Self-Guided and Virtual Tour

Ellis Island Hospital

 

Virtual and Self-Guided Ellis Island Tour

Most people planning their trip to Ellis Island will also be stopping at Liberty Island, which is the first stop.  If you are going directly to Ellis Island, then expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on the ferry before you arrive.

As you disembark, try to imagine what it must have been like for the passengers. Many immigrants had traveled for hundreds of miles to the nearest seaport and then their journeys across the Atlantic Ocean took between 1 and 2 weeks, on ships with as many as 3,000 people on board.  Most of the passengers were in third class (what was referred to as steerage), which was a large area at the ship’s bottom.

 

Ellis Island Main Building

 

When you enter the main building you will be in the massive baggage room. This is where newly arriving immigrants were directed and where they were given identity tags. Many of the arriving immigrants did not speak English. It was a very chaotic scene. The passengers could check their baggage here.  Once you pass the entry doors, you will notice the displays of old luggage in the middle area of the room.    

 

Ellis Island Baggage Area

Baggage Room Ellis Island Historic Image

 

Now that you are inside,  take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the historic interior and all of what today’s museum has to offer. Straight ahead you’ll see the entrance to the Peopling of America Exhibit and the World Migration Globe.  Also located on the first floor are the gift shops and the Ellis Island Cafe (which is located in the same spot as the original cafeteria.) There is also an outdoor cafe for the warmer weather.  

There is also a theater on this floor showing a 30-minute film titled “Island of Hope, Island of Tears“.  Click the link to watch the film now and save yourself time for other exhibits.  

 

 

It’s on this floor that you could leave the building to access the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.   You can also access the Wall of Honor by walking around the island from the point of ferry arrival.  Just above is a Google Street View of the Wall of Honor that you can use as a virtual tour.

On the left is the Ellis Island Kids exhibit, the  Information Desk, and the American Family Immigration History Center.  If you are interested in researching your own family’s history, you can look through millions of arrival records in the American Family Immigration History Center.  http://www.nycgo.com/venues/ellis-island-american-family-immigration-history-center

 

World Migration Globe

 

Straight ahead you’ll notice the World Migration Globe. You’ll definitely want to get a closer look.  The graphics and colors change. It’s  super cool and informative!  On either side of the Globe are introductory exhibits about the history of immigration to America

 


Journeys: The Peopling of America is an exhibition in two parts.

The first part focuses on the history of immigration to America from 1550-1890, just before Ellis Island opened. Definitely take your time exploring the fascinating displays and accounts of how people arrived here, some by choice and some involuntarily. You’ll really get a sense of how so many diverse groups of people populated the land that would become America.

The second part focuses on immigration from 1954 (just after the Ellis Island processing center closed) through today. Through first-hand accounts and a variety of media, this exhibit will give you a close up look at the most recent history of immigration to America.  

From here, you can visit the Citizenship Gallery and learn about the process of becoming an American citizen.

If your cell phone is out of juice, fear not!  A free cell phone charging station is located right outside the cafe. A credit card is required but there is no fee.

 


THE GREAT HALL/REGISTRY ROOM

Walk or take the elevator up to the second floor. Now you will enter the beautiful Great Hall. Just take a moment and try to put yourselves in the shoes of the immigrants who took those same stairs from the baggage room and arrived right here.  

 

 

Imagine the crowds of over 5,000 people a day, every day, for decades. Imagine the noise, the smells, and all the activity. Here was where the legal and medical examinations of the immigrants took place. The process was often very frightening for the new arrivals. The average processing time was 3-4 hours, but for the unfortunate, it could mean a much longer ordeal and could even lead to deportation.  Here was a complicated labyrinth of American bureaucracy presented to the immigrants in a foreign language. Here the immigrants were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and how much money they had on them.  

The room itself is quite remarkable. Look up and admire the grand Gustavino tiled ceiling(28,880 tiles!).   It replaced the former ceiling after shock waves from the Black Tom Explosion of 1916, in which a thousand tons of munitions, intended to be sent to WWI allies in France and England,  were sabotaged and detonated by German agents in Black Tom Wharf, New Jersey. Only 17 tiles were replaced in the 1990 restoration. The remaining 28,863 date back to 1916! The entire room has been restored to its 1918-1924 state.

As we leave the Great Hall, notice the original wooden benches and get another look at this amazing room.  Later on, we will be up on the balcony and we’ll see the recreated dormitory room.

From the Great Hall head to the…

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Stairs of Separation:

After the registry room, the next step for immigrants was the stairs of separation. The stairs had three areas: one for immigrants destined for New Jersey, one for those headed to New York, and the third for those who were detained. This was a joy for some and sorrow for others. Most families would be brought together but others would learn that their loved ones had been detained.

If the immigrants did not pass the medical screening, they were sent to Ellis Island Hospital until they were healthy enough to be admitted. If they did not pass the legal screening, they would be held in the dormitories until they were able to prove that they were legally eligible to enter the country. Approximately 1/3 of all immigrants approved for entry remained in New York City.

Those with severe ailments were held in the hospital.  The Ellis Island immigrant hospital was the first public health hospital in the United States. It was open from 1902-1930. You can see it across from the main entrance.  It held new arrivals who were thought unfit to enter the country.  Ellis Island Museum recently opened up one of the hospital buildings for the public to view.  Above, is a video from CNN touring this building.

There were screenings for such diseases as tuberculosis, cholera, and diphtheria. To inspect immigrants for trachoma (pink eye) the uniformed military surgeons would lift up eye lids with a button-hook!  After further inspections, the immigrant would either be permitted to enter America or be forced to return to his or her home country. Since there was no cure for trachoma at that time, anyone with the pink eye was automatically sent back.  Over 3000 immigrants died while waiting in the hospital. The area has been off limits to the public since it closed but private group hard-hat tours have been running since October 2014.

The exhibit ‘Through America’s Gate,’ located in the west wing of the second floor, demonstrates how immigrants were processed on Ellis Island, including how the ‘undesirables'(criminals, anarchists, the disabled) Board of Special Inquiry Room Ellis Islandwere screened out.  It also shows how some immigrants were permitted entry after five hours, and how an unfortunate few were not allowed in. Here you’ll find fascinating rooms like witness waiting rooms, and detention areas.

You’ll also see the Hearing Room. Any newly arriving immigrant who was suspected of being a public charge or having links to certain political groups was brought before the Board of Special Inquiry. 50 to 100 hearings were held daily. Approximately 20% of the immigrants who went through this process was denied entry into America.

In the East wing, you’ll find an exhibit that concentrates on United States immigration from 1880-1924. In this 44 year period, over 25 million people entered the United States.  During this period, more people migrated around the globe than at any point in history.  Though many migrated to other areas around the world, the United States was the most popular destination.

On the third floor, on the balcony which overlooks the registry room, you’ll find a recreated dormitory room. In the first eight years of the 20th century, two very long and narrow rooms, on opposite sides of the balcony, served as dormitories and could hold up to 300 people.  In 1908, the rooms were subdivided into smaller rooms, such as the recreated one on display. The average stay of detainees was one night. Men and women slept separately.

 

Dormatories at Ellis Island

 

In the East Wing on the third floor is the “Ellis Island Chronicles.”  Here you’ll learn all about how Ellis Island grew from a mere 3.3 acres to 27 acres (or 11 hectares) and becoming the nation’s central immigration port for several decades.

Also in the east wing on the 3rd floor, Treasures From Home is something special to see. Here we have a collection of artifacts donated by families of immigrants who traveled through Ellis Island during peak immigration years. Cherished items reflecting a diverse variety of tradition and culture are on display here.

The third floor also features “Silent Voices,” an exhibit that portrays through photographs and other objects the abandoned state of Ellis Island after it was shut down in 1954 and before restoration began in the 1980s. Additionally, you’ll find “Restoring a Landmark” on the third floor, which recounts the incredible restoration of Ellis Island.

Also, be sure to check out the Bob Hope Memorial Research Library.  Bob Hope was a famous comedian who immigrated through Ellis Island with his family on March 30, 1908. The library features books, periodicals, photographs, films, and many other research tools. Though you will not be able to borrow an item, a staff member is there to assist you.

So that concludes our tour of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  I hope you enjoyed it! If you have time before the next ferry departs, feel free to do some more exploring, check out a film, research family archives, browse in the gift shop or book store, or just relax in the cafe!

 


Journeys: The Peopling of America is an exhibition in two parts.

The first part focuses on the history of immigration to America from 1550-1890, just before Ellis Island opened. Definitely take your time exploring the fascinating displays and accounts of how people arrived here, some by choice and some involuntarily. You’ll really get a sense of how so many diverse groups of people populated the land that would become America.

The second part focuses on immigration from 1954 (just after the Ellis Island processing center closed) through today. Through first-hand accounts and a variety of media, this exhibit will give you a close up look at the most recent history of immigration to America.  

From here, you can visit the Citizenship Gallery and learn about the process of becoming an American citizen.

If your cell phone is out of juice, fear not!  A free cell phone charging station is located right outside the cafe. A credit card is required but there is no fee.

 


THE GREAT HALL/REGISTRY ROOM

Walk or take the elevator up to the second floor. Now you will enter the beautiful Great Hall. Just take a moment and try to put yourselves in the shoes of the immigrants who took those same stairs from the baggage room and arrived right here.  

 

 

Imagine the crowds of over 5,000 people a day, every day, for decades. Imagine the noise, the smells, and all the activity. Here was where the legal and medical examinations of the immigrants took place. The process was often very frightening for the new arrivals. The average processing time was 3-4 hours, but for the unfortunate, it could mean a much longer ordeal and could even lead to deportation.  Here was a complicated labyrinth of American bureaucracy presented to the immigrants in a foreign language. Here the immigrants were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and how much money they had on them.  

The room itself is quite remarkable. Look up and admire the grand Gustavino tiled ceiling(28,880 tiles!).   It replaced the former ceiling after shock waves from the Black Tom Explosion of 1916in which a thousand tons of munitions, intended to be sent to WWI allies in France and England,  were sabotaged and detonated by German agents in Black Tom Wharf, New Jersey. Only 17 tiles were replaced in the 1990 restoration. The remaining 28,863 date back to 1916! The entire room has been restored to its 1918-1924 state.

As we leave the Great Hall, notice the original wooden benches and get another look at this amazing room.  Later on, we will be up on the balcony and we’ll see the recreated dormitory room.

From the Great Hall head to the…

 


Stairs of Separation:

After the registry room, the next step for immigrants was the stairs of separation. The stairs had three areas: one for immigrants destined for New Jersey, one for those headed to New York, and the third for those who were detained. This was a joy for some and sorrow for others. Most families would be brought together but others would learn that their loved ones had been detained.

If the immigrants did not pass the medical screening, they were sent to Ellis Island Hospital until they were healthy enough to be admitted. If they did not pass the legal screening, they would be held in the dormitories until they were able to prove that they were legally eligible to enter the country. Approximately 1/3 of all immigrants approved for entry remained in New York City.

Those with severe ailments were held in the hospital.  The Ellis Island immigrant hospital was the first public health hospital in the United States. It was open from 1902-1930. You can see it across from the main entrance.  It held new arrivals who were thought unfit to enter the country.  Ellis Island Museum recently opened up one of the hospital buildings for the public to view.  Above, is a video from CNN touring this building.

There were screenings for such diseases as tuberculosis, cholera, and diphtheria. To inspect immigrants for trachoma (pink eye) the uniformed military surgeons would lift up eye lids with a button-hook!  After further inspections, the immigrant would either be permitted to enter America or be forced to return to his or her home country. Since there was no cure for trachoma at that time, anyone with the pink eye was automatically sent back.  Over 3000 immigrants died while waiting in the hospital. The area has been off limits to the public since it closed but private group hard-hat tours have been running since October 2014.

The exhibit ‘Through America’s Gate,’ located in the west wing of the second floor, demonstrates how immigrants were processed on Ellis Island, including how the ‘undesirables'(criminals, anarchists, the disabled) Board of Special Inquiry Room Ellis Islandwere screened out.  It also shows how some immigrants were permitted entry after five hours, and how an unfortunate few were not allowed in. Here you’ll find fascinating rooms like witness waiting rooms, and detention areas.

You’ll also see the Hearing Room. Any newly arriving immigrant who was suspected of being a public charge or having links to certain political groups was brought before the Board of Special Inquiry. 50 to 100 hearings were held daily. Approximately 20% of the immigrants who went through this process was denied entry into America.

In the East Wing, you’ll find an exhibit that concentrates on United States immigration from 1880-1924. In this 44 year period, over 25 million people entered the United States.  During this period, more people migrated around the globe than at any point in history.  Though many migrated to other areas around the world, the United States was the most popular destination.

On the third floor, on the balcony which overlooks the registry room, you’ll find a recreated dormitory room. In the first eight years of the 20th century, two very long and narrow rooms, on opposite sides of the balcony, served as dormitories and could hold up to 300 people.  In 1908, the rooms were subdivided into smaller rooms, such as the recreated one on display. The average stay of detainees was one night. Men and women slept separately.

 

Dormatories at Ellis Island

 

In the East Wing on the third floor is the “Ellis Island Chronicles.”  Here you’ll learn all about how Ellis Island grew from a mere 3.3 acres to 27 acres (or 11 hectares) and becoming the nation’s central immigration port for several decades.

Also in the east wing on the 3rd floor, Treasures From Home is something special to see. Here we have a collection of artifacts donated by families of immigrants who traveled through Ellis Island during peak immigration years. Cherished items reflecting a diverse variety of tradition and culture are on display here.

The third floor also features “Silent Voices,” an exhibit that portrays through photographs and other objects the abandoned state of Ellis Island after it was shut down in 1954 and before restoration began in the 1980s. Additionally, you’ll find “Restoring a Landmark” on the third floor, which recounts the incredible restoration of Ellis Island.

Also, be sure to check out the Bob Hope Memorial Research Library.  Bob Hope was a famous comedian who immigrated through Ellis Island with his family on March 30, 1908. The library features books, periodicals, photographs, films, and many other research tools. Though you will not be able to borrow an item, a staff member is there to assist you.

So that concludes our tour of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  I hope you enjoyed it! If you have time before the next ferry departs, feel free to do some more exploring, check out a film, research family archives, browse in the gift shop or book store, or just relax in the cafe!

 


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ELLIS ISLAND HOSPITAL COMPLEX + HARD HAT TOURS 

When you disembark from the ferry to enter the main immigration building and museum, you won’t help but notice of a number of buildings across the ferry inlet.  You are looking at some of the 29 buildings of the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital.  These are pleasant looking buildings in the Belgium style with a somewhat unpleasant history.

 

Ellis Island Hospital

 

Operating from 1902 until 1930, the Ellis Island Hospital complex was a state of the art medical facility that was the last line of defense for the United States of America against contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera, trachoma, diphtheria and countless other ailments.  The 29 buildings included a contagious disease ward, laundry room, doctor’s quarters, an autopsy theater, a kitchen, power plant, dormitories, operating rooms and a crematorium.  Approximately 3500 people perished while detained at the hospital and roughly 350 babies were born here.  You can watch a 55-minute documentary on the hospital titled “Forgotten Ellis Island”.

 

Birdseye View of Ellis Island

 

Hard Hat Tours

It is possible to tour part of the abandoned hospital complex through tours sponsored and led by SaveEllisIsland.org. Tickets are purchased through the Statue Cruises Website.  The hard hats are required because you will be walking thru buildings and tunnels that have been left in disrepair.  Only the haunting images created by street artist JR (watch the 2nd video below) and commissioned by Save Ellis Island are recent additions. Proceeds from ticket sales go to restoration and maintenance of the hospital complex.  For access to parts of the complex not covered on the tour, please check out this virtual tour of those off-limits sections.

 

Prices

  • $25 – Adults ($43 with ferry ticket)
  • $21 – Seniors ($39 with ferry ticket)

Viator is selling a guided tour for $99 – guided tour of the Statue of Liberty (with pedestal access), Ellis Island Museum and Hospital.

 

 


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