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Ellis Island opens

By @ 01/01/11 in January

ellisislandJanuary 1, 1892

During the turn of the twentieth century, no station was more iconic and integral to the wave of European immigrants that flooded America’s shores than Ellis Island.  The immigration center opened on January 1, 1892 to welcome 15-year-old Irish immigrant Annie Moore, travelling with her brothers to meet her parents in New York, as its first customer.  That day, 700 more travellers would pass through the processing center in New York Harbor, participating in rigorous political, mental, and physical inspections.  Over 12 million individuals passed through its gates – 1 million in its busiest year (1907)!  Historians and genealogists surmise that today, a whopping 40% of Americans can trace their roots back to that building.  Immigration processing thrived at Ellis Island well into the next few decades, until World War I convinced the government to start using Ellis Island for other purposes, like detention and deportation, military training, and hospitalization. Ellis Island, however, will always be remembered as a critical portal for American immigration.  Ellis Island didn’t open for visitors again until 1990, after the most expensive historical restoration project ($160 million) was performed on its grounds and a museum was established.

Do you remember where your ancestors came from?  Do you remember when they came to America?