Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ellis Island - Part One

Ellis Island, at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York Harbor, is the location of what was from January 1, 1892, until November 12, 1954 the facility that replaced the state-run Castle Garden Immigration Depot (1855–1890) in Manhattan. It is owned by the Federal government and is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, under the jurisdiction of the US National Park Service. Ellis Island was also the subject of a border dispute between the states of New York and New Jersey (see below). It is situated predominantly in Jersey City, New Jersey, although a small portion of its territory falls within neighboring New York City.

Originally called Little Oyster Island, Ellis Island acquired its name from Samuel Ellis, a colonial New Yorker, possibly from Wales.

It was to be sold by Samuel Ellis, no. 1, Greenwich Street, at the north river near the Jewish Market, That pleasant situated Island called Oyster Island, lying in New Bay, near Powle's Hook, together with all its improvements which are considerable; also, two lots of ground, one at the lower end of Queen street, joining Luke's wharf, the other in Greenwich street, between Petition and Dey streets, and a parcel of spars for masts, yards, brooms, bowsprits, & c. and a parcel of timber fit for pumps and buildings of docks; and a few barrels of excellent shad and herrings, and others of an inferior quality fit for shipping; and a few thousand of red herring of his own curing, that he will warrant to keep good in carrying to any part of the world, and a quantity of twine which he sell very low, which is the best sort of twine, for tyke nets. Also a large Pleasure Sleigh, almost new.

The Ellis Island Immigrant Station was designed by architects Edward Lippincott Tilton and William Alciphron Boring. They received a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition for the building's design. The architecture competition was the second under the Tarsney Act, which had permitted private architects rather than government architects in the Office of the Supervising Architect to design federal buildings. The federal immigration station opened on January 1, 1892 and was closed on November 12, 1954, but not before 12 million immigrants were inspected there by the US Bureau of Immigration (Immigration and Naturalization Service). In the 35 years before Ellis Island opened, over 8 million immigrants had been processed locally by New York State officials at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in Manhattan. 1907 was the peak year for immigration at Ellis Island with 1,004,756 immigrants processed. The all-time daily high also occurred this year on April 17, which saw a total of 11,747 immigrants arrive.

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