Ellis Island was at one time, the main immigration port for immigrants entering the United States from 1892 to 1954. More than 20 million people passed through here before the island was abandoned. At some point, nearly 50% of all immigrants to the United States passed thought Ellis Island. Of these 20 million, only about two percent were denied admission to the U.S. and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as chronic disease. Many who were allowed entry settled in New York and northern New Jersey for at least their first few years in America. After 1924, Ellis Island was only used for detainees and refugees. Ordinary immigrants were processed through other facilities.
Ellis Island was the gateway through which more than 12 million immigrants passed between 1892 and 1954 in their search for freedom of speech and religion, and for economic opportunity in the United States. Because of its unique historical importance, it was declared part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. After a six-year, $162 million renovation, it reopened to the public as a museum in 1990.
The main attraction of Ellis Island is the 10,000 square foot Ellis Island Immigration Museum, housed in the island’s main building. The museum’s exhibit space is devoted to the history of Ellis Island and the story of Immigration to America from the arrival of the first immigrants to the present day. Museum Highlights include a detailed outline of the immigration process at the time. The museum also contains many pictures, letters and testimony of immigrants, along with useful information and statistics about the immigration flow into Ellis Island.