5. The Ellis Island Hospital Complex Stands on Man-Made Islands Built from Subway Landfill

Did you know that the only natural part of Ellis Island spanned just 3.3 acres? Between the years 1903-1910, two new islands were constructed in order to create additional space there, bringing the island’s present-day footprint to roughly 27.5 acres. The foundation upon where the abandoned Ellis Island hospital currently stands is actually man-made — built out of landfill that was excavated during the construction of the New York City subway (we host a tour there too).

The 22 buildings of the hospital were spread out over the two southern islands (Islands 2 and 3), with Island 2 housing the hospital administration and contagious diseases ward, and Island 3 housing the psychiatric ward. However, the space between the islands was eventually filled in during the 1920s to create the base for what was to become a great lawn. That’s because it was believed that fresh air and sunlight were vital for the treatment of diseases. Also, read about other man-made islands here.