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Ellis Island, New York City

4.4
#3 of 115 in Historic Sites in New York City
Historic Site · Hidden Gem · History Museum
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Hear the tales of the 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island when it served as the nation's busiest immigration inspection station, from 1892 to 1954. The immigration museum, housed in the station's main building, reveals details about the immigrants who came to the island and the staff who worked there. You can view informative displays, a short film, photos, art, and personal artifacts. Outside the museum, read the wall of honor for a partial list of the immigrants processed here. Before boarding a ferry to the island, be prepared for a thorough security check; sharp objects and large bags are forbidden. Purchase ferry tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines. A visit to Ellis Island represents just the start of the adventure when you use our New York City trip itinerary planning app to plot your vacation.
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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
7,276 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We can here as part of trip to Liberty and Ellis Islands, from Battery Park in Manhattan but opted to return to Liberty State Park so we could explore New Jersey. Self-guided audio tour contained a... 
    We can here as part of trip to Liberty and Ellis Islands, from Battery Park in Manhattan but opted to return to Liberty State Park so we could explore New Jersey. Self-guided audio tour contained a...  more »
  • Ellis Island was top of my list of places to visit and it didn't disappoint. Really enjoyed learning the history of the Island and there were so many exhibits to read, Sitting in the big hall gave me....  more
    Ellis Island was top of my list of places to visit and it didn't disappoint. Really enjoyed learning the history of the Island and there were so many exhibits to read, Sitting in the big hall gave me....  more »
Google
  • Great history lesson. For visitors recommended at least 2-3 hours to learn about historical site.
  • On any tour of New York City's highlights Liberty Island always gets top billing with Ellis Island often being more of a side trip or footnote. I had the same view myself but having visited both now I'd argue Ellis Island deserves at least equal time and attention on your trip. Yes, Lady Liberty is iconic, but while she's the symbol of the United States' history as a nation of immigrants, the story is better told through the more mundane buildings and artifacts of her neighboring island. Through the gates of Ellis' main building flowed thousands of souls hoping for a transition from one way of life to another just like thousands still do today. Some would face rejection but many more would be welcomed into a growing nation, and each one had a story to tell. You get a glimpse of those stories in the wide variety of museum exhibits chronicling both the well-known episodes of immigration - such as the Irish diaspora due to the potato famine of the 1800s - to the utterly obscure, like the handful of Filipino galleon sailors who escaped their lot by fleeing to Louisiana in 1765, centuries before the Filipino people's own global diaspora. Beyond the main building's museum there are lovely grounds to walk around in and take in gorgeous views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. After a long day walking around both islands the tree-shaded benches were a welcome break. While walking about you can also get an idea from signs scattered about of the less famous history of Ellis Island as a former military outpost predating its time as an immigration station. Overall, Ellis Island is a great experience for anyone with an appreciation for history and hours will fly by quickly until you inevitably have to take that ferry ride back to the city.

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