Ellis Island. Image via Save Ellis Island.
Ellis Island is one of the requisite stops for visitors and residents alike in New York City. It was the entry point for over 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. The architecture of the Ellis Island immigration station is stunning, in handsome brick and interiors of Guastavino tile. Yet, there is a whole history of the island that is often overlooked.
On a tour of the abandoned south side hospitals on Ellis Island to track down the work of artist JR, National Park Service Ranger Mandy Edgecombe gave us lots of secrets about the island, whose history is most commonly associated with immigration.
10. Ellis Island Used to be Privately Owned
Image via Ephemeral New York
The owner of Ellis Island, which he called Oyster Island, was Samuel Ellis. In 1785, he tried to sell it and even advertised it as a “pleasant situated island” in Loudon’s New York-Packet but there were no bites. The city leased the island for military purposes starting in 1794, upon the death of Ellis and buys it from the family in 1808 for $10,000.