From the Pale to the Golden Land
Ellis Island: Port of Immigration

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The Ellis Island Immigration Station Reopens
as reported by the New-York Daily Tribune

Construction of the new immigration station was begun in August 1898. Here is an article that appeared in the "New-York Daily Tribune" on December 17, 1900, the day the immigration station at Ellis Island reopened:



The impression of the way things are done in the United States made upon the immigrant who arrives here to-day will be a more favorable one than that made upon his brother who arrived here a week ago. He will enter this country by the gateway of the new immigrant station on Ellis Island, instead of the grimy, gloomy Barge Office--more suggestive of an enclosure for animals than a receiving station for prospective citizens of the United States.

Groups of immigrants atthe  Barge Office

  The new building on Ellis Island, which is being used to-day for the first time, is a marked contrast to the Barge Office, with its dirty, dimly lighted, cramped, pen like quarters. In place of worn floors and board partitions, grimy and greasy from contact with the soiled hands and clothing of thousands of immigrants, there are concrete floors and white hard surfaced plaster walls. Instead of narrow, gloomy passages there are spacious, well lighted rooms.


photo: group of immigrants at the Barge Office.

                                             ORNAMENTAL AS WELL AS USEFUL.

The architects, Boring & Tilton, have tried in the new building to fulfill every practical demand in such a building, and give it besides, architectural dignity. They have erected a structure that is not likely to meet the fate of the great "tinderbox" that did duty on its site as an immigrant station until it was destroyed by fire three and one-half years ago.

Examination Room in the Immigrant Station on Ellis Island.


The building suggests an exposition hall from the water. It is of red brick, the design being picked out with Indiana limestone and Maine granite. In some respects the interior resembles that of the old structure which it replaces. The main divisions are similar. As in the first building, the examinations are conducted on the second floor, and the baggage is handled on the first floor. The big examination room is two stories high. It is the largest room in the building. On a level with the third floor a railed visitors' gallery runs around it. It is fringed with the offices of the immigration officials, rooms for the meetings of the Board of Special Inquiry, for records, for the Contract Labor Bureau and for more minute medical and contract labor examinations. The chief rooms on the third floor are dormitories for detained immigrants.


Extreme care has been taken to have the sanitary conditions as close to perfection as possible. The floors are of asphalt, with raised edges around the walls, so that they can be thoroughly cleansed with water. The walls for seven feet above the floors are of Keene cement. Above this they are of white, hard surfaced plaster. There are no corners where a hose may not be turned. The white walls and the dark green trimmings are refreshing in their suggestions of cleanliness.

Everything has been so arranged that the immigrant passes through the station very much after the fashion of a roll of paper through a web press. Upon landing at the pier he enters a passage which leads to the entrance of the examination building. Once inside, the passage leads up a flight of broad stairs, which turn before reaching the second floor, and discharges its contents onto the broad, open floor of the great vaulted examination room. Here the preliminary medical inspection is made. The immigrants into whose physical condition there should be further examination are here weeded out and turned into a room near by. The others go forward through numerous narrow aisles. These are the parting of the ways. As the immigrants leave them, they are separated according to their destinations.


A stairway opens before the immigrants as they leave the aisles. It is divided into three passages by wire screens. Those for New York now have free access to the covered passage to the New York ferry slip. Those who are to go away by rail are taken back through the building past the ticket offices and the big baggage room on the ground floor, where the baggage has been assorted into two divisions, that destined for New York in one, and that going out on the railroads the other.

The baggage for the railroads is properly checked, and the immigrants are then taken to a steamboat landing adjoining the one where they landed and are transported to the railroad stations.

Those who are detained are ushered into a large room to remain until further disposition is made of them according to the merits of their cases.

The change from the old station to the new one will be a welcome one to the immigration officials, as it will make their work easier and pleasanter, and give them more cheerful quarters.

The hospital, the power house and the physician's house will not be ready for occupancy before February.   next ►►






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