12 November 1954

Ellis Island ceases operations

Ellis Island is a small island located in New York Harbor, near the Statue of Liberty. It played a significant role in American history as the primary entry point for immigrants arriving in the United States from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

Immigration Station: Ellis Island served as the main federal immigration station from 1892 to 1954. During this time, over 12 million immigrants passed through its facilities. The majority of these immigrants were coming from Europe, seeking better economic opportunities and escaping political or religious persecution.

Opening and Expansion: The first immigration station on Ellis Island opened on January 1, 1892, replacing the earlier Castle Garden Immigration Depot. The original wooden buildings were soon destroyed by fire, and a new, larger brick and limestone structure was completed in 1900.

Inspection Process: Upon arrival at Ellis Island, immigrants underwent a medical and legal inspection. Medical inspections were conducted to identify and quarantine those with contagious diseases, and legal inspections aimed to determine if individuals met the criteria for admission, such as having a job or a sponsor.

The Great Hall: The Great Hall was the main processing area on Ellis Island, where immigrants were processed and interviewed. It is a large, open room that has been restored and is now part of the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

Immigration Act of 1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 significantly reduced the number of immigrants allowed into the United States and altered the demographic makeup of those who were admitted. The act imposed quotas based on national origin, favoring immigrants from northern and western Europe over those from southern and eastern Europe.

Closure: Ellis Island’s role as an immigration processing center declined in the 1920s and 1930s, and it eventually closed in 1954. The buildings fell into disrepair until the 1980s when efforts began to restore the island and open it to the public.

National Park Service: Ellis Island is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is administered by the National Park Service. The museum on the island preserves and shares the history of immigration in the United States.