For those interested in understanding how European immigrants entered the United States in the early 1900s, few experiences could be better than a trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Located on the grounds of the historic Ellis Island, the terminal and entry point for all overseas travelers crossing the Atlantic, Ellis Island saw over twelve million immigrants pass through its institutional gates. One third of all U.S. citizens alive today can trace their ancestry to those immigrants passing through Ellis Island. Of all the locations on the New York Museums list, only Ellis Island commands such a towering position in the collective cultural identity. Many of us have blood relatives for whom Ellis Island was the first sight of a promised land of milk and honey. The Immigration Museum allows us to go back in time one hundred years to see the place as they must have seen it, and to give us a handle on the experience our immigrants must have gone through before paving the path to U.S. citizenship. The museum chronicles the hopes and dreams of immigrants as they passed through the lens of an idealistic young government eager for anyone "yearning to breathe free."
Ellis Island is located between the southern tip of Manhattan and New Jersey, right by Liberty Island, home to the famous Statue of Liberty. Visitors to the Immigration Museum need to first find their way to Battery Park in southwest Manhattan, which is itself home to a number of fascinating historical sites and NY museums. Anyone planning a trip to Ellis Island should plan to spend a couple hours touring the area around this park to see places like Castle Clinton, an old War of 1812 fortress and The Sphere, a memorial for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. If time permits, visitors should also check out a nearby branch of the National Museum of the American Indian. In order to get here, take the 1 train to the South Ferry Terminal. To get to Ellis Island itself, you should catch a ferry at Battery Park. Ferries usually run regularly due to high demand to see the location, so you should be fine even if you don't plan it out beforehand. However, you might want to make reservations beforehand so you don't have to wait in a long line for a ticket and an even longer line to get on the ferry.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum buildings on the island and in Battery Park mostly house the institutional items, articles of clothing, documents and other basic items whose value lies in their historical meaning. However, by far the most interesting part of any Ellis Island trip is a tour of the facilities. Few NY museums are on grounds with such an illustrious history. Many little things might escape the casual observer of this historic location, which is why the assistance of a guide is extremely useful. When you've had the full tour of the grounds and have been taken through the footsteps of the ancestors of this country, consider looking through the genealogical documents saved on the grounds. Ellis Island is committed to helping individuals find records and traces of grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond, and staff have kept the records of everyone who passed through those gates since the early 1900s.
In addition, visitors shouldn't miss the Immigrant Wall of Honor, a fascinating work in progress engraved with the names of some of the immigrants who sacrificed everything for a new life in the U.S., then made that life work. This circular wall bounds the New York museum location in Battery Park and and while only a tiny fraction of everyone that passed through are represented it nevertheless leaves a powerful impression of how important the location was to American history.
After you come back from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum or any other locations on our New York museums list, you should feel welcome to add your experiences to our site! Reviews, articles, photos and videos are all welcome on NYC Museums. As a member of the NYC Museums community, it is your own personal content that makes the experience informative for everyone. Share the stories you learned about your ancestors, a feeling you had while walking through the area or a straight-forward account of your trip. Whatever you feel like sharing, we we welcome it on our site.