The hospital complex on the south side of Ellis Island has been closed for over sixty years, but every weekend a group of adventurous guests put on hard hats and venture into the 22-building compound to explore the ruins and learn about the immigration history of New York City. On Untapped Cities behind-the-scenes hard hat tour, guests are led by a Save Ellis Island docent into various areas of the over 100-year-old complex including the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms, and other spaces that are closed off to the public.

Throughout the tour, guests will see select pieces of the site-specific art installation Unframed by world renowned artist JR. Unframed is made up of a series of historical photographs from the island that have been stretched to life-size and installed on the doors, walls, and windows of the structure. The haunting images of the installation inside the empty spaces help to create a tour experience unlike any other and bring the history of the location to life.

Below, check out photographs taken by Untapped Cities contributor Rya Inman on a recent tour of the hospital and explore this unique site by joining a behind-the-scenes hard hat tour offered every Saturday and select Sundays!
Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

To see all 26 site-specific art installations by JR, join our Unframed JR Tour of the Abanonded Hospital Complex on Ellis Island.This tour will explore the history of the island through the lens of the historical images in the art piece and visit spaces not seen on the behind-the-scenes hard-hat tour including the second floor.

The former laundry facilities

Inside the morgue

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital
Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the Abandoned Hospital Complex at NYC’s Ellis Island
Check out our full lists of public tours and Insider events!