Ellis Island

America’s gateway
Ellis Island

Ellis Island, situated proudly alongside the Statue of Liberty, is the symbolic gateway into New York City. But it wasn’t always such a striking American symbol. Prior to earning its title as America’s most famous immigration station, Ellis Island had to undergo a number of transformations. First it was “Kioshk Island” to Native Americans, then “Oyster” to the Dutch and English colonialists–then Dyre, Bucking, Gibbet…the list goes on. It was only after its purchase by Samuel Ellis in the 1770s that it finally became “Ellis Island”. But even then it wasn’t an immigration site. For years it was the home of Fort Gibson. This military installation was designed as a defensive response against the British who had so easily blockaded the harbor during the Revolutionary War. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Ellis Island finally earned its true claim to fame.

From 1892 to 1954, millions of eager and hopeful men, women, and children had set foot on its shores. Those daring trailblazers, huddled together within the confines of Ellis Island’s immigrant inspection station, had come from a diverse range of backgrounds, occupations, and cultures. Although they had their differences, here on Ellis Island they were all seeking the same thing: a new life. Throughout its 62 years of operation, Ellis Island would end up giving over 12 million immigrants new lives. The majority of those immigrants had come from Europe: namely Germany, Russia, Italy, and Ireland. Because of the sheer amount of immigrants that entered through its gates, it is now believed that about 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry back to that humble, yet promising isle.

Today, Ellis Island and the immigrant station that once welcomed millions of new American citizens is a major national landmark. Although since 1954 it is no longer in use, millions of people still flock there as visitors, hoping to connect with and celebrate the vision of opportunity that the island projects. After having gone through a whopping 165 million dollar restoration during the latter half of the 20th century, it’s now the perfect time to visit.

How do you get there? Statue Cruises, authorized by National Park Services, provides ferry rides to the island. You can catch this ferry at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Expect stunning views along the way.

Within the Main Building of the former immigration station, now exists the Ellis Island museum. A 45 minute audio tour, included with each ferry ticket, will help educate and guide visitors. In addition, tour guides are also available as an option to help you better explore the island. Have ancestors that arrived on Ellis Island? Explore immigrant records at the American Family Immigration History Center and trace your ancestry. Relive the immigrant experience, explore the storied legacy of Ellis Island and American immigration, be awed by stunning Downtown Manhattan and Statue of Liberty views–all with your visit.

Fun Fact: Only 2% of the immigrants who tried to enter the United States through Ellis Island were rejected. However, this didn’t stop the island from being nicknamed “Heartbreak Island” after the many that still failed to make it through.

All Ages All Seasons Attractions Historical Lower Manhattan Manhattan Museums Season

Ellis Island, Jersey City, NY 07305


(917) 299-3843


Location & Nearby Spots

Provide us with your trip information


All Things To Do
Attractions Passes
Broadway and Off Broadway
Entertainment & Nightlife
Free Things To Do
History & Heritage
Recreation and Sports
Spas & Salons
Special Events
Tours & Sightseeing
All Ages
Kids 2-11
Child 12-17
Adults 18-62
Senior 63 +
Staten Island

Provide us with your trip plan information


Provide us with your trip plan information

GoVisitNYC is committed to protecting your privacy. If you sign on, petitions, or use our contact tools, we retain the information you provided to primarily manage our mailing lists, and secondarily to transmit only your information requests to our partners. We do not sell our email list. We do not share or distribute your contact information unless specifically stated so. We may have joint campaigns with one of our partners and in those cases will explicitly state that we are doing so. In those cases, if your information will be shared with another organization in order to facilitate email delivery, list management, and other stated purposes, we will explicitly make notice on any campaign. If you are submitting your information to one of our campaigns or website, you are opting into the sharing of your information for the stated purposes and will be treated as so. We will only share information which you submit at the time of notice and will not share any person's information obtained from other past or future campaigns, knowingly or on purpose. We sometimes carry out our business or operate our website using third party tools. Information may be shared with the operators of those tools in connection with our use of those tools to operate our website.