Ellis Island was the principal federal station in the United States from 1892 to 1954. More than 12 million immigrants were processed here. Over time, the immigration station spread over 3 connected islands with numerous structures including a hospital and contagious disease wards... In its early years, when the greatest number of immigrants entered the country, Ellis Island mirrored the nation's generous attitude and open door policy. After passage of immigration laws in the 1920's, it was used more for "assembly, detainment, and deporting aliens", and symbolized a closing door. Immigrants were required to pass a series of medical and legal inspections before they could enter America.

The actual experience of going through inspection or detainment on Ellis Island was often nerve wracking. Those who did not pass these inspections were returned to their country of origin on the boats that brought them here. Even though only 2 percent of those coming to America were turned away at Ellis Island, that translated to over 250,000 people whose hopes and dreams turned to tears. History of Ellis Island Where did immigrants arrive in NY? Before August 1855 - wharf's of Manhattan August 1, 1855- April 18, 1890: Castle Garden April 19, 1890-Dec. 31, 1891: Barge Office January 1, 1892- June 13, 1897: Ellis Island June 14, 1897 - Dec 16, 1900: Barge Office December 17, 1900-1924: Ellis Island Timeline 1620's. Finding oyster beds near the future Ellis Island, Dutch settlers name it "Oyster Island".

. Salem is founded on Massachusetts Bay by fifty colonists... Bubonic Plague kills half the population of Lyons, France, later ravaging much of northern Italy. 1760's. After the execution of pirates on the island, including one named Anderson, it is known as "Gibbet Island". 1765.

The Stamp Act is passed by British Parliament in 1765 to defray he costs of troops stationed in the colonies. Independence is won in the American Revolution, 1775-1783.1785. Samuel Ellis, owner of the island, tries unsuccessfully to sell the property, although New York will buy it, after his death, in 1807... The dollar is declared the official currency of the United States. 1808. The United States Government buys Ellis Island from New York for $10,000...

Congress outlaws importation of slaves, although trade continues illegally... Napoleon invades Spain, starting the Peninsular War (1808-1814). 1813. Ellis Island houses Fort Gibson (named after the Battle of Lake Erie hero), housing large amounts of ammunition... The term "Uncle Sam" is coined, in an editorial in the Troy (New York) Post on September 7... Napoleon defeated at the Battle of Leipzig by combined allied armies.

1847. Ellis Island is first proposed as a depot to house thousands of Irish immigrants, although Castle Garden is chosen, and serves as depot until 1890... The United States receives the First Wave of immigrants fleeing troubles in Europe (the Second Wave lasts from 1890 1924. ). Ireland is in the grip of the Potato Famine; over one million die. 1861.

Fort Gibson is dismantled and Ellis Island becomes the island's official name... America's Civil War begins at Fort Sumter... Tsar Alexander II of Russia emancipates the serfs, yet their condition remains desperate. 1890. The Federal government establishes the Bureau of Immigration and selects Ellis Island as the site for construction of a new Federal immigration station for the port of New York... The Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota results in the massacre of hundreds of American Indian men, women, and children...

In London, the first electric underground railway is put into service, costing two pence a journey. 1892. The immigration station on Ellis Island is opened on January 1... Financier J.P. Morgan organizes the creation of the General Electric Company. 1897. Fire destroys the original wooden buildings on Ellis Island...

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, largest hotel in the world, is opened By John Jacob Astor IV. 1900. The Ellis Island Immigration Center reopens in its present Beaux-Arts style, designed by the architectural firm of Boring and Tilton... U.S. Troops help to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China... The Trans-Siberian Railway opens, connecting Moscow with Irkutsk. 1907. In a single day, 11,747 immigrants pass through Ellis Island...

Women in Norway are granted suffrage. (American women are granted the Right to vote in 1920.) 1924. The tide of immigrants through Ellis Island begins to wane... Congress passes a law making all American Indians U.S. citizens... Lenin dies in Russia, succeeded by a triumvirate that includes Josef Stalin. 1943.

Ellis Island is used as a detention center for enemy aliens... Allied forces invade southern Italy after taking Sicily. 1954. Ellis Island is officially closed and offered for bid. More than 12 million immigrants have passed through Ellis Island since 1892... The U.S. Supreme Court declares racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional...

French Foreign Legion troops and pro-French Vietnamese are defeated at Dien Bien Phu by the forces of Ho Chih Minh. 1965. Ellis Island becomes part of the National Park Service... President Lyndon B. Johnson unveils his "Great Society" program to end poverty in the U.S... The People's Republic of China is gripped by the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution", instituted by Mao Tse-tung. 1974.

The Restore Ellis Island Committee is formed to raise funds for renovation... President Richard Nixon resigns and is replaced by Gerald Ford... Famine induced by severe droughts threatens millions of Africans. 1983.

Restoration of the main building on Ellis Island is begun... Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space, on the Space Shuttle Challenger... Lech Walesa, head of the Polish labor union Solidarity, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 1990. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum opens on September 10... United States forces are sent to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield...

Communism collapses in Eastern Europe, and the "Cold War" ends. 1992. Ellis Island celebrates its centennial. 1998. Landmark Supreme Court decision in dispute over Ellis Island ownership between New York and New Jersey. The Registry Room Nearly every day for over two decades (1900-1924) the Registry Room teemed with hopeful arrivals waiting to be inspected and registered by Immigration Service officers.

As the tide of immigration swelled, sometimes over 10,000 people would file through this space in a single 24-hour period. For most immigrants, this great hall epitomized Ellis Island. Here they encountered the complex demands of the immigration laws and an American bureaucracy that could either grant or withhold permission to land in the United States. In 1954, Ellis Island closed and was virtually abandoned until 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson added it to the Statue of Liberty National Monument under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The restoration of Ellis Island began in 1983 and the immigration museum opened in 1990, with the building being restored to the period of 1918-1920. Ellis Island exists today as a testament to the vital importance of immigration in shaping America and to the millions of people who passed through its doors.

The Journey Immigrants sailed to America in hopes of carving out new destinies for themselves. Most were fleeing religious persecution, political oppression and economic hardships. Thousands of people arrived daily in New York Harbor on steamships from mostly Eastern and Southern Europe. The first and second class passengers were allowed to pass inspection aboard ship and go directly ashore. Only steerage passengers had to take the ferry to Ellis Island for inspection. However, for all of them the trip meant days and sometimes months aboard overcrowded ships often traveling through hazardous weather.

Substandard food and sanitation conditions only compounded the misery for many who had become sick aboard these ships. Never the less, the promise of freedom and opportunity made even the most arduous trips worth it. Ellis Island Today In recognition of the significant role Ellis Island played in American history, the Main Building was refurbished in time for the immigration depot's centennial in 1992. Centerpiece of the restoration project was the construction of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Covering three floors and 200,000 square feet, the museum tells the poignant story of the immigrants who entered America through the golden door of Ellis Island. The museum features exhibits, restored areas, and educational facilities including an interactive learning center for children.

The museum also houses an extensive library and photograph archives in addition to its oral history collection containing over 1300 hundred taped interviews with immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island. Use of these collections is by appointment. SOURCES OF INFORMATION: web. history channel. htm.