By David Caplan
From 1892 to 1954 over fourteen million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island; they processed more immigrants than all other US immigration ports combined. On one day alone, over 11,500 immigrants came through this site. The first immigrant was a young Irish girl name Annie Moore, from County Cork, Ireland. They gave her a $10.00 gold piece to celebrate her accomplishment and it was the most amount of money she had ever had.
They called Ellis Island the “Island of Hope” and the “Island of Tears” because not everyone who arrived was allowed to stay. 2% were sent back to their countries of origin, usually because of a communicable decease like Cholera, Typhoid, Tuberculosis and Yellow Fever. Others were sent back for having a criminal background or exhibiting signs of mental illness. The cost to send immigrants back to their country of origin was absorbed by the same steamship companies that brought them here. Approximately 10% of all immigrants who came through Ellis Island were either hospitalized or quarantined.
In the mid 1920’s Ellis Island became largely a center for deportation and detention. During and after World War II Ellis Island was used to intern German Merchant Marines, enemy aliens and others accused of spying and sabotage. In December of 1941 there were 279 Japanese, 248 Germans and 81 Italians detained at Ellis Island.
Ellis Island has certainly had a major impact on the face of New York City. 175 languages are spoken in NY and 36% of the people who live here today were born outside the United States. That’s why NYC is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world.
Last week’s mystery photo: Grant’s Tomb
Trivia question: Where is Gracie Mansion?