My amazing friend Leah organized a trip to Liberty Island and Ellis Island for our homeschool group. What a fun day! First we took the ferry to Liberty Island (and my son goofed around with his friends). We stayed on, because we have been there before, but neither Kev nor Mikro, nor Leah and her son, had ever been to Ellis Island before. I'm glad we did it this way, because we *still* didn't have enough time to see everything. We all vowed to go back.
Approaching Ellis Island...
Once we got there, we picked up the free audio tour. Since the boys all have cell phones, we let them explore on their own, though they had to check in with us on the hour. We split up and explored. Kev and I did the Through America's Gate exhibit first. We learned about what an immigrant coming to Ellis Island would have experienced, from debarking, to dropping their luggage (all they had in the world) in a huge pile, separation of families (women and children from the men), being observed while they walked upstairs to the huge Registry Room in a process known as the 30 second physical, having a medical exam, and being evaluated for entry based on legal requirements, having your clothes marked with chalk if they felt you were a problem and needed further examination, being detained if you were ill (they let your family stay on the island too, until you either got better or they decided (in about 2 percent of cases) to send you back, in which case your family had to chose whether to stay or go with you). If you were cleared, you went down the stairs in one direction to either a ferry to New York or Hoboken, and a train trip onward to your destination. If you were sent back or detained, you went another direction. They called the stairway "The Stairs of Separation." Later, we had a Ranger Tour with our friends, and learned more.
The Registry Hall is massive, and would have been full of people. Our kids played inspector and quizzed each other about things like where they were from, married or single, and how much money they had, all questions that would have been cross checked against the ship's manifest of the vessel you arrived on.
The huge vaulted ceiling was done by the Guastavino tileworks family. (There will be a post about them soon...)
This is a hearing room for people who were facing being sent back...
We even saw Pete Seeger at Ellis Island, in an exhibit about music:
We enjoyed the museum up until the last ferry back to Battery Park.
Passing through the park, we saw The Sphere, which used to stand in the World Trade Center Plaza.