An astounding 12 million people came through Ellis Island, and their descendants -- now scattered across these fifty states -- can come back visit the place where their family's American history began.
Begin your experience with a 45-minute self-guided tour of the museum. This is an audio tour and is available in nine different languages to accommodate those who do not speak English but still want to know about the history found at this amazing site. There are several exhibits available for viewing, such as artifacts left behind by the new Americans who came through the island, and photographs of people seeing the US for the very first time.
Perhaps the best attraction is the oral histories given by people who arrived in America via Ellis Island -- you can actually get a firsthand account of the immigration experience from those who lived it!
If you are a genealogist or simply just interested in knowing more about your family's travel to the United States, you will want to check out the American Family Immigration History Center.
Here, you can access a wealth of Ellis Island records, including ship manifests and passenger records. Searching though this database can allow you to actually see your ancestor's signature live and in person. This can be a very moving and unforgettable experience!
Since Ellis Island is one of the most visited historic sites in America, you should plan your visit in advance. Some days are more crowded than others, especially if there is a specific event going on. You also should think of your transportation needs as this is obviously not a trip you can make by car or you would get mighty wet.
The only way to get to Ellis Island is by ferry, and this service is provided by Statue Cruises. The ferries depart from locations at Battery Park if you are leaving from New York City, and from Liberty State Park if you are going from New Jersey. Hours vary during each season, so be sure to check the schedule to be sure that you don't miss the opportunity to get out there (and back).
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