Ellis Island, Castle Garden, etc.
Location in Port of New York and New Jersey
Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1924. The island was greatly expanded with land reclamation between 1892 and 1934. Before that, the much smaller original island was the site of Fort Gibson and later a naval magazine. The island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, and has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990. A 1998 United States Supreme Court decision found most of the island to be part of New Jersey. The south side of the island, home to the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, is closed to the general public and the object of restoration efforts spearheaded by Save Ellis Island. The island has been closed to the public since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. For more information about Ellis_Island.
Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort now located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Once known as Castle Garden, now call Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton the Garden construction was began in 1808 and was completed in 1811. Much more information at Castle_Garden
Immigrants Coming through Ellis Island and Castle Garden
Ellis Island was expanded and by the time it closed on November 12, 1954, twelve million immigrants had been processed by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration. It is estimated that 10.5 million immigrants departed for points across the United States from the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, located just across a narrow strait. Others would have used one of the other terminals along the North River (Hudson River) at that time. The peak year for immigration at Ellis Island was 1907, with 1,004,756 immigrants processed. The all-time daily high occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants arrived. After the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed, which greatly restricted immigration and allowed processing at overseas embassies, the only immigrants to pass through the station were displaced persons or war refugees.
Today, over 100 million Americans - one third of the population - can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who first arrived in America at Ellis Island before dispersing to points all over the country. More about the Immigrant_Inspection_Station
Castle Garden is perhaps best remembered as America's first immigration station (predating Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the U.S. from 1855 to 1890. Much more information about the immigration station is at Castle Garden. A short general overview of the early immigration conditions can be found in Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1855-1890.
Detention and deportation station
After 1924, Ellis Island became primarily a detention and deportation processing station. A timeline about Ellis Island is Here
During and immediately following World War II Ellis Island was used to intern German merchant mariners and enemy aliens - American civilians or immigrants detained for fear of spying, sabotage, etc. Some 7,000 Germans, Italians and Japanese would be detained at Ellis Island. It was also a processing center for returning sick or wounded U.S. soldiers, and a Coast Guard training base. Ellis Island still managed to process tens of thousands of immigrants a year during this time, but many fewer than the hundreds of thousands a year who arrived before the war. After the war immigration rapidly returned to earlier levels.
Records of Ellis Island and Castle Garden
The inspectors used the passenger lists given to them by the steamship companies to process each foreigner. These were the sole immigration records for entering the country and were prepared not by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration but by steamship companies such as the Cunard Line, the White Star Line, the North German Lloyd Line, the Hamburg-Amerika Line, the Italian Steam Navigation Company, the Red Star Line, the Holland America Line, and the Austro-American Line.
CastleGarden.org is an educational project of The Battery Conservancy. This free site offers access to an extraordinary database of information on 11 million immigrants from 1820 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. More than 100 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration period.