For more than 60 years starting in 1892, Ellis Island served as one of the primary immigration processing centers in the United States. It’s estimated that 40 percent of living Americans today can trace at least one ancestor whose gateway to America was through this island just off the coast of Manhattan. Germans, Poles, Czechs, Italians and many other Europeans all made the arduous journey to Ellis Island, nearly all were escaping war and famine. America, for them, was a last gasp of desperation and Ellis Island was a new beginning. Today the place is a fascinating monument to human immigration. Visit the restored Main Arrivals Hall and the museum, which runs a self-guided tour through the complexes history. At the American Family Immigration History Center, visitors can do multimedia searches through the archives. Who knows? You just might turn up a lost ancestor.
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