Ellis Island – Gateway to America
Ellis Island, which is situated in New York Harbour, was the biggest and busiest immigration station in America. It first opened its doors on Jan. 1st 1892. When it finally closed in November 1954, over 12 million immigrants had passed through, to begin a new life in America. Many of those immigrants were from Ireland, having left their native land to avoid a life of poverty and hopelessness.
The first person ever to pass through Ellis Island was an Irish girl from Cork called Annie Moore. She was only 17 years of age and travelled with her two younger brothers on board The Nevada. There is a lovely monument dedicated to Annie Moore on the quayside in Cobh Harbour, which was the main point of departure for Irish emigrants.
However, during its 62 years of operation, thousands of people had their dreams shattered and were refused entry to America mainly due to ill health, disease or physical impairment. In 1924 the U.S. tightened up its immigration laws and the numbers passing through slowed to a trickle. From then on it was used mainly as a detention and deportation centre. Ellis Island is now a museum and one of New York’s top tourist attractions.