Ellis Island is famed for gift the unified States’ prior door because that receiving immigrants—but walk you understand millions of civilization had already come to the U.S. By the time Ellis Island opened in 1892? This history of Ellis Island can aid you better understand your immigrant ancestors’ arrivals and how to find the proof in new York immigrant records.

You are watching: A record 1.25 million immigrants are processed at ellis island this year.

Why to be the Ellis Island Immigration terminal Built?

During the an initial 100 year of U.S. History, the country placed couple of restrictions ~ above immigration. In fact, numerous newcomers were in reality enticed to make America their home. The commonwealth government available incentives favor fast-tracked citizenship for army service and the ability to acquisition homestead land. U.S. Employers actively recruited workers overseas. New arrivals wrote house to encourage their loved ones to sign up with them.

By the 1870s, enthusiasm for welcoming immigrants began to fade, particularly when it come to negative immigrants. The commonwealth government began restricting entry with law such as the immigration Acts of 1875 and also 1882.

Massive numbers of immigrants continued to arrive, however: around 600,000 per year.1 many came through the lock Garden Emigration Landing Depot at the port of new York. Eventually, this facility and also its administration proved inadequate. The federal government stepped in to control immigrant processing—but very first it developed an entirely new facility ~ above Ellis Island.

When did Ellis Island Open?

The Ellis Island immigration Station opened up on January 1, 1892. The main building was 400 feet lengthy with square corner towers. Travelers stored your luggage on the first floor and underwent investigate on the second. Those efficiently admitted could exchange currency and purchase rail tickets on the spot. Any who to be detained continued to be in the island’s dormitories or hospital.


Unfortunately, the main structure burned come the ground 5 years later. Because that the following 3 years, public representative processed immigrants at the Barge Office ~ above the southeast reminder of Manhattan. A new—fireproof—Ellis Island facility opened on December 17, 1900. Because that the next several years, Ellis Island welcomed extraordinary numbers the arrivals, peaking in ~ 1.25 million in 1907 alone.

Laws passed in 1921 and 1924 dramatically limited immigration come the joined States. Additionally, prospective immigrant began using at U.S. Embassies in their home countries. Web traffic at Ellis Island diminished. ~ 1924, the Ellis Island facility housed opponent aliens, war refugees, displaced persons, WWII servicemen, coastline Guard trainees, and also imminent deportees. That closed in 1954, after much more than 12 million immigrants passed through its doors.


Who to be the Immigrants?

U.S. Immigrants during the Ellis Island era greatly came indigenous eastern, southerly and main Europe. Some fled poverty. Others, such as eastern european Jews, fled spiritual persecution. All sought the family member safety and also prosperity for which the nation was known.

Only steerage (“economy-class”) passengers were personally sent to Ellis Island. Due to the fact that they were poor, these passengers were very closely scrutinized come be certain they were disease-free and also financially maybe to treatment for themselves. Wealthier travelers obtained a quick inspection top top the ship before being cleared to enter the country. Read much more about Ellis Island passenger arrival lists.

See more: How Do You Know If Shrimp Is Bad, How Can You Tell If Frozen Shrimps Are Bad


An Algerian man


A Ruthenian woman


Sunny Morton teaches personal and family background to an international audiences. She"s a Contributing Editor at family members Tree Magazine, past Contributing Editor in ~ Lisa Louise Cooke"s ancestry Gems, and the writer of just how to discover Your Family history in U.S. Church records (co-authored v Harold Henderson, CG); Story of my Life: A Workbook for keeping Your Legacy; "Genealogy Giants: to compare the 4 significant Websites," and also hundreds that articles. She has degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University. Review her occupational at sunnymorton.com.