All About Ellis Island
Ellis Island is a popular tourist attraction that is situated in the upper part of New York Bay. It is a small island that was once used as an immigration station, detention center, fort, and arsenal. Today, it is a National Monument that attracts over 3 million visitors every year, and it houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which contains records of more than 22 million people who migrated to the US from various parts of the world.
Ellis Island was opened as an immigration center in the year 1892. Most of the immigrants who arrived in the island came from European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, and Hungary, and a smaller percentage of them traveled from Asian countries such as India and China. They had to endure tremendous hardship as they traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in crowded passenger ships. While most of the passengers managed to survive the ordeal at sea, many died along the way.
After they arrived in Ellis Island, the immigrants had to present their travel documents to immigration officials and undergo a series of physical and mental tests. Immigrants who failed the eye test would be marked with the letter “E”, while those who failed the physical and mental tests would be labeled “L” and “X” respectively. After that, they would be inspected for medical problems such as tuberculosis, favus, and measles. Immigrants who were suffering from any of these health problems would be sent to the second floor of the immigration building, where they had to go through further inspection conducted by the US Public Health Service. Following the health inspection, they would be asked a number of questions by immigration officers, who would decide whether to release or detain them.
A new immigration act was passed in 1924, and the number of immigrants arriving in Ellis Island decreased significantly. During the Second World War, the island also served as a detention center for enemy seamen, with the dormitory and baggage building being used as detention facility. The US Coast Guard also used the island as a training center for about 60,000 servicemen. The arrivals of immigrants continued to dwindle, and the government decided to close the Ellis Island immigration station in 1954. From 1924 to 1954, the immigration center allowed less than 3 million immigrants into the country.
In the year 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced that Ellis Island had been declared a National Monument, and it was opened as a public attraction from 1976 to 1984. The island underwent extensive restoration works in 1985, and the total cost of the project amounted to $160 million. It was the biggest historic restoration project in the history of the US, and it was funded by The Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island Inc. as well as the National Park Service. The main building of the island was transformed into the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and it was reopened as a place of interest on the 10th of September, 1990.
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