9. An Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The main hall of the Ellis Island immigration facility.
The main hall of the Ellis Island immigration facility.

After Ellis Island stopped offering Immigration and Naturalization Services in 1954, the government considered Ellis Island a federal surplus. Eleven years later, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed Ellis Island to be part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, giving control of the island to the National Park Service. However, the island fell into disrepair during this era of neglect and oblivion.

In the 1980s, the National Parks Service created a restoration project that aimed to restore the main immigration building to its appearance during the era of peak immigration between 1918 to 1924. These efforts allowed the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to open to the public in 1990. In 1999, the Park Service began to stabilize buildings in the hospital complex, which remains abandoned and off-limits to the public to this day except by guided tours led by Save Ellis Island docents. Save Ellis Island is a non-profit that was created to raise funds that support the restoration and re-use of the twenty-nine historic unrestored Ellis Island hospital buildings. The organization has already raised over $70 million and completed massive restoration projects including the restoration of marine corridors connecting the north side of the island to the south side, the magnificent Ferry Building, the Hospital Laundry Building, and an outdoor recreation pavilion. You can help support the Save Ellis Island mission by joining us on an upcoming hard hat tour of the abandoned hospital complex!

Ellis Island Hospital Tour

Guests in hard hats listen to a guide on the behind-the-scenes Ellis Island abandoned hospital tour

Next, check out the short film “Unforgotten: Ellis Island!