Written by Lyndsey Morgan
Ellis Island served as a federal immigration station for more than 60 years, from 1892 to 1954. The ancestry of more than 40% of all Americans can be traced back to this station, as millions of immigrants arrived to the United States from Europe and elsewhere, but first processed through Ellis Island. Ellis Island served a great need when it initially opened its doors, as a great influx of immigrants had begun to arrive from the whole of Europe. During its heyday, Ellis Island saw Jews escaping political persecution, and other nationalities escaping poverty, persecution and famine.
Ellis Island is located in New Jersey, along the Hudson River. It initially consisted of only one island on 3 acres, but as demand required it, two additional islands were built alongside the initial island, utilizing landfill, expanding the breadth of the premises to more than 27 acres. One island was used for a hospital to address contagious diseases. Administration offices were also built onto that island. The other island was used for a psychiatric ward for new arrivals.
Ellis Island closed its doors in 1954, after mass immigration came to a halt, following the Immigration Quota Act of 1921, and the National Origins Act of 1924. These acts limited how many and what kind of immigrants would be accepted through immigration. In 1976, Ellis Island was opened again, but this time as a tourist attraction. The facilities have been restored, and records made public to visitors, who come from all over to trace their ancestry.