Ellis Island

From 1892 to 1954, over 12 million immigrants entered USA through the portal of Ellis Island in New York Harbor

Photo Gallery

A History In Images


The History of Ellis Island


Recreation Shelter and Green Space The restoration of the Outdoor Recreation Shelter and lawn will allow the public to visit the historic interior lawn area comprised of approximately 4 acres of open space plus an additional 3.4 acres of open space adjacent to the lawn. This will allow SEI to expand its programs and activities to include use of this large interior courtyard area of the hospital and enable the public to enjoy the magnificent vistas and to view the entire hospital complex, including the infectious and contagious disease wards. The Recreation Shelter, built in 1937 was intended to serve as an outdoor shelter allowing patients to enjoy social activities and fresh air recreation during their stay in the hospital. The structure is an open shelter constructed of brick and pre cast ornamental terracotta with a concrete ceiling and enclosed storage rooms at each end. The restoration scope of work includes repair of the brick and terra cotta structure, installation …

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Changes in immigration laws and modes of transportation as well as the cost effectiveness of operating the island all played a role in the closing of Ellis Island as an immigrant processing center. In 1954 the federal government declared Ellis Island surplus government property and the site was abandoned. Proposals were made for selling or redeveloping Ellis Island, but none were considered suitable. With no funding the empty and unused buildings deteriorated until the 1980’s when the Main Building and adjacent structures were designated for restoration and reuse and money was provided for their stabilization. A private/public partnership was also proposed to raise funds to stabilize the remaining 30 buildings. By then, the hospital facility had been vacant and abandoned for nearly 50 years. The buildings were showing the effects of neglect and deterioration; windows broke apart, roofs caved in, the brick and limestone cracking and falling to the ground. Trees and other vegetation began to dominate the island and …

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Ellis Island Today

Current and Future Projects The Laundry Building The fully equipped Laundry Hospital Outbuilding played an important role in helping to prevent the spread of contagious disease. Among its many activities it is estimated that at the height of immigration through Ellis Island, 2000 to 3000 pieces of laundry were disinfected and washed daily. The 60 x 40 foot building was designed in 1899 by U. S. Treasury Department Architect James Knox Taylor and built by New York City builder Atillio Pasquini. The brick building included dormers for the staff, a morgue, autopsy room, discharging and receiving rooms, disinfecting and laundry rooms and a boiler room. The Laundry Hospital Outbuilding, originally known as the Hospital Outbuilding, was built between September 1900 and December 1901 and listed on the National Register in 1966. In January 2016 we completed the restoration of the historic Hospital Laundry Building — Today participants of our Hard Hat Tours can see the original laundry equipment still in place …

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Our Supporters

The Save Ellis Island website is made possible by a generous donation from Heidi Liebi Root in memory of her father Fred Liebi