Facts About Ellis Island

Ellis Island Immigrant Depot, New York. (1903)

Ellis Island Immigrant Depot, New York. The Alien Immigrant, 1903. GGA Image ID # 149aa62bd6

Thirteen Facts About the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). How many of these facts were you aware of?

  1. Ellis Island lies about 1/2 mile north of Liberty Island in New York Harbor, a few hundred yards east of the Jersey City docks and a mile west of the southern tip of Manhattan.
  2. Shallow waters were filled to increase the area of the island from less than three acres in 1890 to five acres in 1892, 16 acres in 1899, 25 acres in 1906, and 27.5 acres in 1934.
  3. The immigrant depot grew from three buildings in 1900 to 25 buildings in 1910 to 29 buildings in 1935. All the buildings were connected by an enclosed corridor in 1914 and 1935.
  4. The main building is 385 feet long, 165 feet wide, and 62 feet high, with four 100-foot comer towers. Its largest room was the Examination Room (Great Hall)—200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 56 feet high.
  5. Approximately 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Another 5 million immigrants were processed there (paperwork done at Ellis Island even though they did not physically pass through).
  6. During the peak years of immigration, 1901 - 1914, Ellis Island received between 2,000 and 5,000 immigrants a day.
  7. Between 1910 and 1914, five million immigrants came to the U.S. (more than in the 30 years before the Civil War).
  8. 1907 was the peak year of immigration—more than 1,285,000 people were admitted.
  9. During that peak year, 7,000 immigrants were deported and 10% were detained for further observation. During all the years of Ellis Island's operation, approximately 250,000 people—2% of total who arrived—were turned back to their home countries because they were sick, feebleminded, or suspicious-looking.
  10. 3,000 suicides occurred during the first 40 years of Ellis Island's operation as an immigrant station.
  11. An estimated 100 million Americans (about 42% of U.S. population) have ancestors who passed through Ellis Island.
  12. The first immigrant to enter Ellis Island was 15-year-old Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland, on January 1, 1892.
  13. The last person dispatched from Ellis Island was Ivan Pederson (or Peterson), a Norwegian seaman, who left the island November 12, 1954.

"Facts About Ellis Island," in the INS Reporter, US Immigration and Naturalization Service, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, Vol. 34, No, 2, Spring 1986, p. 20.

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