Since its launch, our hard hat tour of the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital has been one of our most popular events to date. Recently, Atlas Obscura joined us for the tour and sent us an Instagram story inside the complex! If you haven’t yet joined us for the experience, see above for a sneak peek of what to expect. (Also check out Atlas Obscura’s full coverage here.) We offer this unique, behind-the-scenes event every Saturday and Sunday, and we’re eager to share it with urban explorers, history buffs and readers from all walks of life.
While Ellis Island has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year, the 22-building South Side hospital complex is hidden in plain sight, just to the left of disembarking passengers headed towards the Great Hall. After immigration restriction laws shut down Ellis Island as a port of entry, the complex was left to decay for nearly 60 years. Looking at its desolate, skeletal frame now, it’s difficult to imagine that it was once the standard for United States medical care and one of the largest public health undertakings in American history.
Our on tour, we’re bringing you back inside for a unique exploration of the abandoned facility, guided by a Save Ellis Island docent ; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.
- Discover buildings over 100-years-old, which have not been occupied since 1954
- See an exhibition installed by the world-renowned artist JR, who has placed life-sized historic photographs of Ellis Island immigrants on interior walls of the hospital buildings
- Visit the Laundry Building, where 3000+ pieces of laundry were washed and sanitized daily
- Discover infectious and contagious disease wards, the kitchen, the autopsy room and other usually off-limits places
Price: $75 | Your ticket includes the price of the ferry to and from Ellis Island.
Getting to the ferry: After purchasing this experience you will receive a separate email which will include your Ferry ticket. Print this ticket and show it to security to board the Ferry. To reach the site, visitors will have to board a Statue Cruises ferry, which takes off by Castle Clinton in Battery Park, lower Manhattan. Please REMAIN on the boat past the Statue of Liberty to get to Ellis Island.
In order to be on Ellis Island by the beginning of the tour (2pm), we recommend following this schedule:
11:30am: Arrive to Castle Clinton ahead of time to allow time to clear the airport style security
1:10pm: Board the ferry at Castle Clinton (the ride is roughly 40-minutes)
1:50pm: Arrive at Ellis Island and head to meeting location
What to wear: Closed-toe-shoes are mandatory. Please dress appropriately for the weather, as the buildings are not climate controlled.
What to know: The tour is 1.5 hours long. It will make scheduled stops for quick photographs, but tripods and unipods are not allowed. Due to the nature of the buildings, all guests must stay with the tour guide at all times. The tour is inaccessible for people using wheelchairs or powered scooters, and kids must be 10+ years-old to join. Tickets cannot be transferred to another date a week prior to your tour event.
Photos of places you’ll see on the tour: