The over 100-year-old hospital complex on Ellis Island has been abandoned for over 60 years and this weekend, Untapped Cities is taking you behind-the-scenes on a hard hat tour! Explore the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms, and gain exclusive access to other places that are off-limits to the public on this urban adventure.

The abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex was once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center). 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. Looking at its desolate, skeletal frame now, it’s difficult to imagine its backstory as one of the largest public health undertakings in American history.

Join us for this weekend’s hard hat tour, guided by a Save Ellis Island docent, where we’ll uncover the hospital complex’s many, buried secrets.

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital


  • Explore the over 100-year-old contagious disease hospital, which has been abandoned since 1954
  • See an exhibition 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 the kitchen, autopsy room and other usually off-limits places
  • Get special access inside the original morgue and long abandoned FBI offices


Price: $75 per person. This price includes your ferry ticket to and from Ellis Island.

What to know: You will receive your ferry ticket by email in the week leading to the tour date you selected, and will need to print this ferry ticket in order to access the Statue Cruises boat which will take you to Ellis Island. It takes two hours to get to Ellis Island from Castle Clinton, Manhattan. If your tour starts at 2pm on Ellis Island you will need to arrive at Castle Clinton, Manhattan no later than 12pm in order to get in line, go through the airport style security, and board the Statue Cruises boats to Ellis Island. The boat ride itself takes 40 minutes. The boat will first stop on  Liberty Island, stay on the boat and wait until its second stop which will be Ellis Island. Departure from Jersey City is also available. Taking photos is encouraged however tripods, unipods and video recording 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. No cancellation or refunds.

What to wear: Closed-toe-shoes are mandatory. Please dress appropriately for the weather, as the buildings are not climate controlled.

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital


Abandoned Contagious Disease Hospital viewed from the ferry

Abandoned General Hospital viewed from the ferry

Autopsy TheaterPhoto by James and Karla Murray

Morgue Door, Photo by James and Karla Murray

View from one of the isolation ward

Passageway connecting different contagious disease wards. Photo by James and Karla Murray

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

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