Ellis Island

Ellis Island a complex of one natural and two artificial islands in Upper New York Bay, southeastern New York, near Manhattan. The complex belongs to the United States government. From 1892-1954 it was the headquarters of an immigration and naturalization district of the U.S.  The original island was called Oyster Island by the early Dutch colonists; it was later known as Gibbet Island, after a pirate was hanged there in 1765. Samuel Ellis, a merchant of New York City, bought the island in the 18th century and gave it his name. From Ellis it passed to New York State; it was bought from the state by the federal government in 1808, and for a time it served as a federal arsenal. In 1892, when Castle Garden, the immigration station at the Battery in lower Manhattan, could no longer handle the flow of immigrants, the reception center was transferred to Ellis Island. In 1898 and 1905, the two additional islands were created by dumping earth and rock nearby. It is estimated that about 16 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island. Due to declining immigration, the Immigration Service closed the station in 1954 and transferred its activities to Manhattan. In 1990 the former immigration station was dedicated as a museum, after undergoing a 6 year long renovation. It contains documents and artifacts related to four centuries of American immigration.