IMMIGRANT BUILDINGS ON ELLIS ISLAND.
Children's playground is on the top of the left wing.
It was little more than two years ago that Frank P.
Sargent was appointed Commissioner General of Immigration, and only a
few months before that Commissioner Williams was placed in full charge
of the Ellis Island station. In the interim the entire appearance of the
island has changed, and many inexpensive, but not the less effective,
devices have been installed, all of which make for the comfort and the
health of the future citizens of the United States.
When Commissioner Williams took charge of the
station, Ellis Island presented a most unattractive appearance. There
were ample and excellent buildings, it is true, but utility only had
been considered, and orderliness and attractiveness, now so noticeable,
were conspicuous only by their absence. Mr. Williams, with the hearty
encouragement and cooperation of the Commissioner General, has worked
wonderful changes, and today the exterior of the station is as
attractive as a well kept country place, while the interior is
characterized by a cleanliness and neatness formerly believed impossible
To Commissioner General Sargent belongs the credit of
one of the latest and most attractive features introduced on the
island--the children's playground. Thousands of children are domiciled
at Ellis Island for weeks, sometimes for months at a time. Arriving
after a week or more or confinement in the fetid atmosphere of the
steerage, they are usually pale and listless, an when as often occurs,
their parents are necessarily detained for some time in the station
hospital, their lot is not a happy one, or rather, it formerly was not.
Moved by pity for these little ones, Commissioner Sargent sought a
remedy for their condition. The grounds did not furnish an appropriate
place for a playground, but diligent examination revealed an ideal place
on the large, flat roof of the main building. There, by the erection of
awnings and the raising of the parapet, the children could play to
their heart's content. There they could enjoy the sea breezes of
New York Harbor, precisely the sort of tonic needed after their passage.
There they could run and romp and laugh and shout without disturbing any
one or doing injury to themselves or their surroundings. Commissioner Sargent's suggestion was joyfully received by Commissioner Williams, and
the result is an amply equipped play place, where the future young
Americans recover from the effects of their voyage and learn their first
lessons in liberty.
One of the long needed improvements recently provided
for by Congress at Commissioner Sargent's earnest solicitation is the
new ferryboat, which went into commission on July 1, taking the place of
the old Carlisle, and Mr. Sargent hopes before long to get a new
"boarding boat" to take the place of the Chamberlain, now in use. A new
dining room has been recently added at the station. It is constructed on
the most approved plans, with tiled floors and every appurtenance which
can conduce to convenience and cleanliness, and in many instances minor
improvements have been installed, all making for hygienic conditions.