Statue Cruises ferry provides daily service from Battery Park, Manhattan and from the Central Railroad Terminal building in Liberty State Park, NJ.
Open daily, 9:30am-5:15pm.
Ferries are wheelchair accessible as are the Ellis Island museum and outside grounds. A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Information on the history of Ellis Island is available in Braille at the information desk, and the video exhibitry in the main building contains captioning. Guided tours are available for free in American Sign Language. Get more information.
The portal to America for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924
Situated only one half mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Ellis Island attracts over 3 million visitors each year. Many come because the island is part of their family's history; others visit because the immigrant experience is such a key part of the American identity. In fact, over 40 percent of Americans can trace their lineage through the Ellis Island Immigration Station.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum's exhibits express the hopes and realities of the voyages of more than 12 million immigrants (the majority from Eastern Europe and Italy) who passed through Ellis Island, and help convey the impact that these immigrants have had on the United States. A visit to the Immigration Museum includes a short, scenic ferry ride across New York Harbor from either Lower Manhattan or New Jersey and can easily be combined with a stop at the Statue of Liberty.
Watch this video for a short introduction to the immigrant experience by a national park ranger. Get an in-depth ranger tour of the Ellis Island musuem on your visit.
At the Immigration Museum in the main building, the 30-minute film Island of Hope, Island of Fears introduces visitors to Ellis Island and the immigrant experience. Three floors of exhibits showcase possessions that immigrants brought from their homelands, baggage used on the voyage to America, information on famous immigrants, and historic photographs, newspaper clippings, political cartoons and other commentary on the history of Ellis Island and immigration. Here visitors can find out surprising facts about immigration, such as the largest single day of immigration occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,741 immigrants were processed; or that while most immigrants were granted access to America, an unfortunate 2% were sent back to their port of origin, due to health problems or lack of finances.
Also housed in the main building is the American Family Immigration History Center, a research facility open to the public that contains the records of the more than 22 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members who entered the United States through the Port of New York and Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. Visitors can search these records for specific passengers and access details about their voyages and personal information upon arrival. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor, already inscribed with over 700,000 immigrant names, gives visitors the opportunity to add the names of their own ancestors or search for inscriptions of famous immigrants.
By the 1920s, U.S. consulates overseas assumed responsibility for immigration. From that point forward until the island closed in 1954, Ellis Island served as deportation center, Public Health Service Hospital and Coast Guard station.
Originally an island of about 3 acres, Ellis was enlarged to 27.5 acres by landfill primarily acquired from the massive construction project of the New York City subway system as well as ballast from ships that sailed into the harbor. The expansion of the island's size was so costly that the remaining budget only permitted a wooden structure to be built for the processing of immigrants. This wooden building opened in 1892 and then burned to the ground only five years later. Rebuilt with masonry, the main building which stands today opened on January 1, 1900. Other buildings included a 750-bed hospital, a contagious disease ward and a ferry terminal that dates from the 1930s.
Things to Do
Check the NPS Ellis Island schedule for tours of the museum.
American Family Immigration Center, American Immigrant Wall of Honor, Ellis Island Living Theater, Island of Hope, Island of Fears documentary, audio tours, The Peopling of America exhibit and other temporary exhibits.
Exhibits attract visitors from across the nation and world.