Every weekend Untapped Cities provides guests with the opportunity to explore off-limits spaces inside Ellis Island’s abandoned hospital complex with a special behind-the-scenes hard hat tour. This weekend, the tour is being offered on both Saturday and Sunday and there are still tickets available for both days.

Led by a docent of Save Ellis Island, the non-profit responsible for the preservation and rehabilitation of the site, guests will venture through areas of the 29-building complex that have been closed to the public for over sixty years. Along the way, you will also view pieces of the site specific art installation Unframed, a series of life sized historical images from Ellis Island’s archives that were pasted throughout the complex by world renowned artist JR. You can book your spot on this unique tour with the button below and read on for more details.

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


The abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex—once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center)—has been left to decay for nearly 60 years. Now, Untapped Cities is bringing you behind-the-scenes for a unique exploration of the abandoned facility; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.

While Ellis Island has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year, the 29-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 our upcoming hard hat tour, guided by a Save Ellis Island docent, where we’ll uncover its many, buried secrets.

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


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.

Abandoned Contagious Disease Hospital viewed from the ferry


“Wow… just wow… this is one one of my top ten tours ever…” — Thom H, Trip Advisor

“Fantastic tour – Our guide Barbara was really passionate and really good at sharing her knowledge – So amazing to discover all the JR art pieces along the visit as well – Thanks Untapped Cities for this great experience!” — JDumas2017, Trip Advisor

“The description of the tour and logistic information provided by the Untapped Cities was very thorough and helpful. The tour was run by the non-profit Save Ellis Island with the tour cost going to this organization which funds the renovation of the abandoned hospitals on EllisIsland. The docent leading the tour was knowledgeable, engaging and enthusiastic. She was very welcoming of questions, comments and input. I highly recommend this tour if you have a curiosity for history.” — Val-Bklyn, Trip Advisor

“Great experience all around. First, the folks at Untapped did a great job communicating everything you need to know, providing great information and the ferry tickets via email. Also, sent a text message the day of the tour. Barbara, our tour guide was fantastic. Very knowledgeable and passionate about Ellis Island. She welcomed questions throughout the tour. Being a part of the Untapped Cities tour provided even further access to some of the off limit areas. Tons of great photo ops. My girlfriend and I had a fantastic time. I highly recommend this tour.” — Szmakman, Trip Advisor

“What a fun and informative experience. Jim was our tour guys and it was evident he was passionate about the history of Ellis Island and the abandoned hospital. I learned so much more than I anticipated. I have told everyone about this tour. It’s a must do!” — Jessica B, Trip Advisor

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

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


Abandoned General Hospital viewed from the ferry

Photo by James and Karla Murray

Autopsy TheaterPhoto by James and Karla Murray

View from one of the isolation ward, Photo by James and Karla Murray

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

Check out the full lists of our upcoming public tours and Insiders events!