2. The Ellis Island Hospital Complex Was Used as a Military Detention Site for Prisoners of War

The Contagious Disease Hospital viewed from the ferry. Image by James and Karla Murray

The Ellis Island hospital didn’t always serve as a health facility. After it closed in 1930, the FBI briefly utilized the space as a field office. During World War II, military detainees, including German and Italian prisoners of war, were housed on the islands, and wounded U.S. soldiers were also treated there.
Then from 1939 to 1946, the United States Coast Guard occupied Ellis Island, and established a training station there. The hospital complex and recreation buildings were used as offices until 1954, when the Coast Guard officially abandoned the site, leaving behind medical equipment and furniture.