Friday, October 24, 2008

A Visit to Ellis Island

We were disappointed yesterday when the tour did not stop at Ellis Island even though it advertised that it did. The problem was that the other stops took too long, and we missed the last ferry that went to Ellis Island, so we saw only the Statue of Liberty.

Linda wanted a quiet day, and was really tired from all of the walking yesterday. So she went to the mall, and I took the New York subway back to Battery Park and the ferry to Ellis Island. I left at 10:30 a.m. from Queens on the R subway, and was at Battery Park at 11:30. I bought my ticket, and then found the end of the line - it wrapped all the way around the park - maybe 300 yards long. I passed through security after 1 pm. and caught the 1:30 p.m. boat - it stopped at the Statue of Liberty, and got to Ellis Island at 2 p.m. Here's the view from the boat on approach:

This is the entrance to the Ellis Island Immigration Center. You enter into the Baggage Room.

At the west end of the room is the American Family Immigration History Center. This center has the resources of the web site on computers - the visitors can look for the ship manifests and ship passengers. I stood and watched an excellent docent coax the immigration information from a patron - and then the patron went to a computer for a 35 minute session to find and copy the ship manifest and ships picture. Of course, the patron can buy a beautiful framed reproduction. I sensed the excitement, though. This is really ground-floor genealogy. I'll bet few of these patrons knew before hand that they would have this opportunity.
I had limited time, so I went up to the second floor where most of the exhibits are located. I no sooner entered than I was face-to-face with Annie Moore, the first recorded immigrant to Ellis Island. I had to get a picture of and with Annie, since I have such strong feelings for her:

The rest of the exhibits were excellent - rooms showing the ships, the ocean passage experience, the inspection process at Ellis Island, and how the passengers left Ellis Island - to meet family, sponsors or back to the home country. I didn't have time to watch the theater shows - one is a 30 minute film of "Island of Hope, Island of Fears" about the Ellis Island experience. I quickly toured the third floor too, but had to leave on the 3:20 pm. boat in order to be back in Queens by 5 p.m.
Unfortunately, the long wait in line really curtailed my time at the Center. But it was a great hour of reading, learning and seeing the Ellis Island experience.
This was my first time on the New York subway. I bought a one-day MetroPass for $7 and could have gone all over the system if I had had time. Going back was during rush hour, and the cars filled and partially emptied several times.
Linda and I went to a restaurant down the block from the hotel for dinner. We celebrated my birthday with a big lemon meringue dessert that we shared.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so we aren't sure what we will do for the day. I would love to go to the New York Public Library ( I even know where it is - 5th Avenue and 42nd Street!) for several hours just to see the genealogy collection and perhaps work with it a bit.
I have many more pictures from inside the Center, but Blogger is not cooperating tonight in loading pictures.


Becky Thompson said...

Thanks for the detail, Randy! Sounds like you had a good birthday too!

Sheri Fenley said...

OOOh, you are having way too much fun! More pictures please!

Sheri Fenley

Kathryn Doyle said...

Excellent report, Randy. I've never been to Ellis Island - it's on my list though. You've inspired me to find out when Angel Island will re-open to visitors and plan a visit. We almost lost the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island in the recent fire. I haven't been there in many years and it is also worth a blog post!