The Other Side

President’s Day

Posted on February 19, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Happy President’s Day! Today, we celebrate and honor United States presidents from past and present.  Save Ellis Island would like to share a brief history of a few of our presidents who have influenced Ellis Island and have made historic visits to the island. Beginning with President Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) who designated Ellis Island as America’s first federal immigration center in 1890. Before that time, the processing of immigrants had been handled by individual states. When Theodore Roosevelt was President (1901-1909), he took a great interest in events on Ellis Island. He visited the island in 1903 to inspect how immigrants were processed and was deeply moved thinking about the masses of immigrants who entered through Ellis Island. President Roosevelt signed the Immigration Act of 1907 in to law on February 20, 1907. The Act was part of a series of reforms aimed at restricting the number and groups of immigrants coming into the U.S. before and after World War …


Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 9, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Valentine’s Day is a day for romance and to celebrate love with our loved ones. As the holiday approaches, we wanted to share the history of the “Kissing Post” on Ellis Island as it is a spot of great interest. When immigrants recalled stories of the kissing post it was with much affection. The “Kissing Post” also known as the “Kissing Gate” was located on the first floor of the West Wing of the Main Building.  In this area, immigrants were reunited with their friends and relatives who arrived in America before them. “The Kissing Post” got its nickname because family and friends waited for loved ones after months or years of being apart. Their reunions were joyous and they celebrated with a lot of hugging and kissing.  People sometimes had to wait days and hours for their family members to be cleared by immigrant officials.  When they finally did reunite there was so much kissing to be done that …


Martin Luther King Day – January 15, 2018

Posted on January 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Martin Luther King Day is observed on January 15, 2018.  On this day, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who brought hope and healing to America.  King dreamt that all Americans would be judged by their personalities and not by the color of their skin.  King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929 and the holiday is celebrated on the Monday closest to that date. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and activist, led a groundbreaking nonviolent civil-rights movement that gave African Americans the courage to speak-up.  In 1955, King led the Montgomery bus boycott.  A year-long civil-rights protest during which African Americans took a stand against segregation by refusing to give up their seats to white people on city buses.  The campaign was sparked by Rosa Parks who four days prior refused to give up her seat. For the next 10 years, King organized several nonviolent protests and …


Celebrating 45 Years!

Posted on January 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Congratulations to Peg Breen, the staff and Trustees  of the New York Landmarks Conservancy for 45 years of helping to preserve New York’s architectural heritage.  Ms. Breen, President of the Conservancy and Board Member of Save Ellis Island, Inc. has been instrumental in assisting Save Ellis Island and the National Park Service with stabilization and preservation efforts on the south side of Ellis Island.  


Christmas on Ellis Island

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 7:06 pm

The holidays were very important on Ellis Island, perhaps the most celebrated was Christmas. It was observed each year at Ellis Island through religious services, festivities, and gift giving. The Roman Catholic Church and the various Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Churches and denominations offered separate religious services in accordance with their respective traditions. Religious services were commonly presided over by foreign-born clergymen who could speak fluently in Italian, Polish, German, French, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese: many services were offered in English for British and Irish immigrants. For Jewish detainees, Passover, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, and other holy days were observed. The kosher kitchen staff, under the supervision of a rabbi, prepared food that was appropriate for these occasions. Missionary societies sent toys and fruit for the children. The General Committee of Immigrant Aid purchased small, useful articles for the adults, so that everyone could have a Christmas gift. Gifts were given to the immigrants in bright cotton …


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