What a phenomenal tour! The tour began at the entrance to the abandoned hospital complex where we donned hard hats and huddled against the February winds hearing the story of immigrants hospitalized on Ellis Island.
Our amazing guide for the next 90 minutes recanted the stories of 12 million who were treated by the Public Health Service from 1892-1954. While stated earlier, and bears repeating, 40% of our American population came through Ellis Island by 1951, with as many as 4,000 screened daily by 6 Public Health Service Doctors through a line inspection process.
While mortality rate was low, a morgue was necessary on site.
Less than 2% immigrants were deported. When deported they were returned to ships docked off Staten Island for return to their homeland. Those quarantined had chalk marks placed on their clothing with an X for mentally ill, or P for pregnancy, or No for not able to support themselves.
Steamship companies had to return those deported, and were fined $100, however, with their extensive ship pre-screening process many were eliminated before being allowed on the ship.
Public Health Doctors lived on site with their families. Their children would attend school with other children on Governors Island across the Hudson River. Daily they were taken by boat to their school.
A must see and do, especially for anyone in the health care field.
It is a short jaunt from the Statute of Liberty Island to Ellis Island, however, much can be seen in this short Hudson River sail.
Staten Island Ferry
Then you arrive at Ellis Island where 40% of the descendants of our current population came through its doors. Millions arrived to the find the magic of America escaping political problems, unemployment, and other persecutions. Between 1901 and 1910, 8.8 million arrived, and were processed at the Island.
To best capture all during your visit recommend reviewing the national parks web site, http://www.nationalparks.org, once you have ascertained the amount of time you wish to spend on site. There are 3 levels to the Museum, and much to see on each level. In the nooks and crannies of the Museum there are short videos and a myriad of items of interest. The New Eras of Immigration on the first floor is a must see as it captures our most current Americans and their trials. Attempt to answer the citizenship questions they are required to know.
Look for the follow sign and obtain a National Park brochure to ensure your visit complete.
Following are glimpses from the visit.
The Third Floor
Reconstruction of the tower – After immigration the Island was left to decay for several decades. Much disrepair from weather and vandals occurred during this period. In 1986 the restoration was completed.
Treasures From Home – items which immigrants brought from home along with their stories.
Sculptures depicting the immigrants reception and processing at Ellis Island.
The Second Floor – This was known as the Great Hall or Registry Room. In peak immigration years the initial questioning and medical inspections occurred in this area. Only 20% were held for additional examinations.
Should immigrants be held they were housed in dormitory rooms and later their cases heard for trial. Prior to coming to America on vessels the immigrants were heavily screened by the ship staff and if deported the shipping company they arrived with would have to return them to their homeland.
For those who passed testing great reunions occurred beyond the doors of this room, which came to be known as the Ellis Island Kissing Post.
On the first floor visit the Baggage Room, an amazing gift shop, and Ellis Island Cafe. Here you will find spectacular murals of the immigration era.
What a wonderful visit, and not completed yet as I took the fund raiser tour, Hard Hat Tour of Ellis Island for $50. This tour is a behind the scenes tour of the abandoned hospitals of Ellis Island. These hospitals treated treated immigrants, and later psychiatric patients.
If interested, purchase your ticket on the first floor of the main building across from the gift shop to the left of the entry doors. All proceeds go to hospital renovation projects, and if purchased from a travel service the fee is close to $70., wonder who is getting the profits on that?? So, as usual stay tuned..
There are many trip options available to visit the Statue or Ellis Island Museum, however, if you only wish a float by pic of our lady recommend a free Staten Island Ferry ride for this.
But.., if a history buff recommend the “authorized concessioner,” tour. Prices are reasonable for what received, and by purchasing on line your spot is secured. Arrive early, first ship 9:30 am, as there is much to see. Also, if visiting in winter, dress in warm layers, as it is a brisk ride over the Hudson River. However, should you forget hats or gloves, many street vendors sell wares as you wait in line.
Last ship departure from the sites at 4:30 pm.
Screening area prior to embarking on the ship.
Shout out to Battery Park…
After your visit there are many monuments to service men and women lost in our wars to view, as well as fun things to do and see, or take a rest and observe the view.
Got in to LaGuardia at 8 a.m. and quickly made arrangements for my day. New York is one of those places where you can always find something to do. My main concern was my suitcase which was light, however, I had forgotten LaGuardia Airport has no luggage storage, however JFK does and here is the JFK info:
API Terminal 1 & 4 JFK International Airport 718-751-4001. Call for rates and I get no kick-backs.
Let’s get movin’ as the City awaits. Started with a cruise on the Hudson River at the World Financial Terminal, Battery Park City, Vessey Street.
This was pricey and if you are short on cash and only want to see the Statute of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry. The Ferry is free, (yes, there are free things to do in New York City, google it), and this offers great views.
However, since I wanted to see more and thought I could get to Ellis Island,
I took this venue. The guide was amazing but didn’t make it to Ellis Island. However, here are some interesting tidbits from the guide:
More than 100 million people came through Ellis Island
40% of all Americans can trace immigration from Ellis Island
10,000 people came through Ellis Island per day
Ellis Island was built on landfill from digging out the subway system.
Only 1% of the people were sent back and this was for criminal records, health, or psych problems
Ellis Island had the most advanced hospital of its day
On to the Statute of Liberty
French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi created this lady from 1875-1885
While she was a gift from France she came over in pieces
There was no pedestal and the U.S. had to pay for her assembly
It took 6 years to raise funds to pay for these items
The idea for fundraising to pay for assembly and pedestal came from Joseph Pulitzer. He accepted any donation and gave advertising in his newspaper in return
80% of the donations were less than $1 and from immigrants.
One final fun fact: In NYC over 800 languages are spoken…
Next the Smithsonian Indian Museum
This is another of New York City’s best kept secrets. It is free and an enriching experience for all ages. I even saw Governor Cuomo and his 3 lovely daughters here as well as sailors from France, and all nationalities speaking one of those 800 foreign languages.
The beauty of the building continues to the gift shop where the restoration gleems with brass gates, intricate flooring and ceilings. They also have reasonable prices on gifts, turquoise jewelry, and no sales tax as it is a federal operation.
The official name of the building is the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House and rightfully named as Hamilton did much to establish the U.S. financially. It was built to be the residence of the President but never occupied. New York City was the first U.S. capitol and Washington took his oath of office on the balcony of the old New York City Hall.
A special exhibit in the Rotunda describes the American Indian role as servicemen and women. The Indian language was used in code transmission during World War I and II and never broken by the enemy.
Past this exhibit are galleries of paintings done by Indians of varied tribes.
There are also traditional Indian exhibits at the Museum. Take in those as well.
Make sure to stop on the first and third floor to enjoy more of the buildings architecture as well as exhibits described earlier. Volunteer staffers are eager to help all explore and discover their genealogy. They offer workshops and free access to web sites.
And The Imagination Center is not just for kids. Information on Inca bridge building, herbal remedies, musical instruments, and a myriad of other topics are available to explore.
One last lap around the financial district…
Locating the subway I began the journey to JFK. On route an email relayed a delayed plane so I stopped at the Resorts World Casino, (which is on the subway line on the way to Howard Beach). Spent an hour, enjoyed the Christmas decorations, got some grub, won $2., and continued on to JFK.
Whew! Ready to sleep for the overnight flight to Lisbon…