"ELLIS ISLAND" Ellis Island by icunme
Ellis Island Travel Guide: 59 reviews and 148 photos
Note: Major work in progress - more info on tips........
If your family set foot in America on the doorstep of Ellis Island, this is a sacred pilgrimage for you. They came through New York Harbor and entered this building to be processed.
OK - a little Ellis Island history - the immigrants that passed through this portal certainly deserve that we know some of the facts:
* Ellis Island was designated an immigration station on April 11, 1890
* More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island from 1892 until 1954.
* Immigrants from Italy head the list as they numbered 2,502,310 from January 1892 to June 1897 and from 1901 to 1931.
* All immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island made their voyage in steerage - 1st and 2nd class passengers were processed on board their ships.
* The usual cost of steerage tickets was $30 and was enormously profitable for steamship companies. Larger ships held from 1,500 to 2,000 immigrants with a profit of $45,000 to $60,000 for a single voyage.
* Suffice it to say that steerage conditions were deplorable - located in the worst part of the ship, subject to the most violent motion, odors from the hold and galleys and unattended vomit of the seasick, reek of undesirable food, stench of nearby inadequate toilets. All this further aggravated by the cramming of as many bodies as possible in the space. It ws a marvel that human beings could endure the journey and still maintain faith in the future.
* The journey could take anywhere from ten days to a month - most from Italy took three weeks.
At one time the mortality rate was 10% per voyage. I do know that my grandmother lost her 3 year old daughter, my aunt Maria Vitoria, on the voyage to American from Verona. She bundled the child so she would not be thrown overboard and Maria was taken from her when she disembarked at Ellis Island. My family spent many years just trying to find out where Maria had been buried. A large oval portrait, beautifully hand painted, hung in the living room of my grandparents' home. I thought the little girl in pink was me until I was about ten years old and my Uncle Gino told me it was my Aunt Maria.
The first glimpse of their new country was the majestic Statue of Liberty.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
This line from a poem, “The New Colossus,” by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus graces the plaque at her base. Appropriately, it is Lady Liberty herself speaking to the immigrants. Tired - indeed, these huddled masses and tempest torn by the trans-Atlantic journey!
Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion, to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.
Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue's copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France and it was agreed upon that the American people were to build the pedestal, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly here in the United States.
Wall of Honor facing the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor commemorates more than 600,000 individuals and families whose names appear on the wall - most placed by decendents across the United States. Check the Ellis Island website to add names: www.wallofhonor.com
If your family migrated from Italy to America - it is likely that you have been to Ellis Island. There is now an... more travel advice
An extraordinary 10-room exhibit that tells the larger story of immigrants, regardless of their port of entry. Displays... more travel advice
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