For the Gift Shop, I am posting my completion for the Big Apple Adventures Challenge. Thank you for hosting this challenge. I embarked on a project a few years ago that involved searching my mom's family tree. So this challenge was of particular interest to me. I enjoyed it very much. And I look forward to everyone' completions because New York is such a fascinating place to visit.
=19.2pxBig Apple Adventures Challenge - Ellis Island
Type: New York Harbor Tour by yachtDestinations: Ellis Island (with a guided tour of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum)Points of Interest: Brooklyn Bridge and Liberty Island (the Statue of Liberty)
Departs: 10:00 am from Pier 15 (Manhattan)
Returns: 2:00 pm
Cost: $49 per person
Amenities: Buffet lunch, DJ entertainment .
~ START – Welcome / Boarding Yacht / 10am DepartureGuests will be greeted as they arrive and board the yacht. They will be directed to the refreshment table on the upper level for sodas, beer, wine, coffee, tea and an assortment of pastries. The DJ on board will feature some music and fun games on the lower level.
~ SITE 1 – Brooklyn Bridge ~After enjoying some refreshments on the top deck of the yacht, the tour guide will suggest visitors might want to get their cameras ready to start snapping photos of the well-known Brooklyn Bridge as we sail under the iconic landmark.
TOUR GUIDE: The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River. It spans 1,595.5 feet and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever constructed. It has been featured in many movies over the years, including Annie hall, Gangs of New York, Kate and Leopold, It Happened in Brooklyn, Independence day, I Am Legend, The Dark Knight Rises, Once Upon a Time in America, The Avengers, and Godzilla, just to name a few..
~ SITE 2 – Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty ~As we continue the harbor tour and head toward Liberty Island, the tour guide will instruct tour guests to grab their cameras again and get ready to start snapping photos of the most famous of all New York landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, or sometimes referred to as ‘Lady Liberty’. The Tour guide will then provide a few interesting facts about the statue.
TOUR GUIDE: The iconic landmark known as the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was designed by Frederic Auguste Barthold, and built by Gustave Eiffel. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886. The copper figure stands 151 feet, 1 inch high (46 meters) from her feet to the tip of the torch. If including the granite pedestal and measuring from ground level to the tip of the torch, the statue stands an impressive 305 feet, 1 inch (93 meters). As ships carrying immigrants edged into the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was the first structure the ship’s passengers would see. After weeks of rough sailing, the mere sight of the immense statue sitting in the middle of the harbor was nearly always met with a round of applause, exuberant cheers, and emotional tears because it was the iconic symbol of the freedom that so many of the ship’s passengers were desperately seeking...
~ SITE 3 – the famous New York Skyline.
As the tour proceeds through New York Harbor, the tour guide will suggest cameras should be ready again to snap a few postcard quality photos of those towering New York skyscrapers and that famous lower Manhattan skyline.
SITE 4 - Ellis Island Immigration Museum ~ As the yacht makes its way toward Ellis Island, the tour guide will cover the history of the island and its use as a U.S. immigration processing station.TOUR GUIDE: Ellis Island was named for its last private owner, Samuel Ellis who set up shop as a tavern owner who catered to fisherman and sailors who conducted business in the harbor. It started out as a small landfill in Upper New York Bay (which the fill came from excavation of subway tunnels) that eventually grew to 27.5 acres. It’s situated near lower Manhattan and the west edge of Brooklyn. Buildings were constructed on the island over several years in order to house what would become the largest U.S. Immigration Station which opened on January 1, 1892. It was an enormous three-story structure with several outbuildings, all built of Georgia pine, and contained all the amenities thought to be necessary in the late 1800s. In its first year, more than 450,000 immigrants were processed on Ellis Island. In its peak year (1907), more than 1,004,756 had been processed on Ellis Island. The highest volume for any single day was 11,747 immigrants processed on April 17, 1907.
The first immigrant to step on Ellis Island was Annie Moore, a rosy-cheeked girl from County Cork, Ireland, who arrived on Ellis Island on her 15th birthday. She crossed the Atlantic with her 11- and 7-year old brothers who came to the U.S. to be reunited with their family who left Ireland several months prior. A Catholic chaplain and Ellis Island Commissioner were there to greet her, and they awarded her a $10 gold piece to mark the occasion. It was the largest sum of money she had ever owned, and she stated she intended on keeping it for the rest of her life as a memento of her remarkable journey to America. Today, a statue of Annie and her brothers remains on display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
The main building was destroyed by a kitchen fire on June 15, 1897, and a new building—which resembled a modern train station—was constructed in its place. It included a Baggage Room, a Dining Hall, a large kitchen, dormitories, a 700-bed hospital, a detention ward, and outdoor recreation areas including a roof garden.
The far majority of immigrants arrived in New York by ship. Because it was assumed that their sufficient financial resources would keep them from becoming public charges if they were to fall ill, passengers in first-class staterooms and second-class cabins were subjected to a brief shipboard medical inspection by health inspectors. Those who passed their health inspection were allowed to leave the ship immediately after it reached port and take a ferry to New York City. However, those who failed the inspections joined the third-class/steerage passengers who were taken from the ship to board ferryboats that transported them to Ellis Island for immigration processing.
When arriving on Ellis Island, passengers had to carry all their belongings from the ferryboat. Then they walked down the gangplank and headed toward the main building. While proceeding to the main building, officers passed out numbered identity tags. arriving on Ellis Island.
SITE 5 – Baggage Room ~When the yacht reaches the Ellis Island dock, the tour guests will leave the yacht and walk down the gangplank and enter the main building on the ground floor. They’ll first enter the Baggage Room, just as millions of immigrants had done for more than 62 years.
Exhibits in the Baggage Room will include assorted vintage luggage, baskets, duffle bags, boxes, trunks, and crude bundles wrapped in tarps and tied with rope. The items will be situated much as they might have been on any given day during the mass immigration to New York City in the early 1900s.
There will be posters and photographs of immigrants from many different countries who once passed through Ellis Island as they emigrated from their homeland in search of a better life in America, a land that promised hope, freedom and opportunity. Some of the displays will include personal stories of harrowing experiences and moments of triumph of many, many former immigrants of all ages and ethnic backgrounds who once passed through Ellis Island as they arrived in America so many years ago.
After the group is gathered in the Baggage Room, the tour guide will explain the purpose and significance of the Baggage Room. TOUR GUIDE: Wearing their numbered tags, the immigrants first entered the Baggage Room on the ground floor of the main building. They would leave all their personal belongings and worldly possessions that they brought with them from their homeland which would be kept in the Baggage Room until necessary medical and legal inspections were completed.
PHOTO ABOVE - An exhibit in the Baggage Room at the Ellis Island Museum as it’s seen today by museum visitors. Many posters hang in the Baggage Room with photos and stories of multitudes of immigrants who walked the corridors of Ellis Island processing station in search of a better life in America..
~ SITE 6 – The Registry Room (known as ‘the Great Hall’) ~The tour will continue up one flight of stairs to the second floor and into the Registry Room. The tour guide will gather the group together and explain the purpose of the Registry Room and point out some of the features after the extensive restoration efforts that established the building as a museum. TOUR GUIDE: After leaving the Baggage Room, the next stop for immigrants was the Registry Room on the second floor of the main building. It was referred to as the Great Hall because of its enormous size (200 feet long by 102 feet wide). Once in the Great Hall, each “new arrival” would wait in the massive room until their name was called so they could undergo a medical inspection and a legal inspection.
The medical inspection involved health inspectors looking for signs of obvious illness and potential mental health defects. In particular, contagious diseases were of concern to health officials, and in particular they were diligent about preventing the spread of tuberculosis. And every immigrant of any age and gender had their eyes examined for trachoma (a contagious eye disease that leads to ‘pink eye’ and blindness). It was usually a quick exam, which is perhaps the reason it was referred to by most as the “six second physical.”
The legal inspection was to be sure the individual was legally able to enter the U.S. It involved being asked 29 questions (such as name, occupation, home country, how much money did they have with them, have they ever been convicted of a crime, etc.). If any of their answers alarmed the immigration officials or if they strayed from the data taken from the ship’s passenger manifest, the individual was likely to be detained. The entire process took an average of three to five hours for most, but it could extend to days and even weeks for those who were detained due to pending medical or legal issues. The Great Hall in the early 1900s
PHOTO ABOVE: The Great hall today, after extensive restoration efforts were completed throughout the 1980s. a medical inspection in the 'Great Hall'
a legal inspection in the 'Great Hall'.
~ SITE 7 – The Stairs of Separation ~After leaving the Great Hall, the tour guide will direct the group to the top of the famous stairs and explain why they were called the ‘Stairs of Separation.’. TOUR GUIDE: After being processed in the Great Hall, the next step for immigrants was to descend the ‘Stairs of Separation’ to the lower floor to retrieve their belongings. The long staircase had three aisles. Those who cleared inspections would then walk down one of the aisles of the staircase. Those going directly to New York City or points farther north would walk down the right aisle of the staircase to join the line waiting to board ferryboats to Manhattan. People with plans to travel to points west or south of New York City would walk down the left aisle of the staircase to purchase train tickets for their destination. Those who were detained for various reasons would walk down the center aisle, and at the bottom of the stairs they were greeted by officials who escorted them to the third floor for further processing.
It was called the 'Stairs of Separation' because some immigrants who were detained for health or legal reasons would be taken to the third floor to await further medical or legal evaluation. That often resulted in being separated from their family, and it often took days (or sometimes weeks) before they saw their family again. Word spread quickly of this practice, and the staircase became known as the ‘Stairs of Separation.”
At the bottom of the staircase was a post office, a ticket office for the railways, a social worker to help immigrants who needed assistance, and an office to exchange money from their home country to U.S. currency. (Part of the legal inspection required immigrants to show that they possessed at least $20, so the exchange service was quite crucial for most of the new arrivals.) the 'Stairs of Separation' on Ellis IslandTOUR GUIDE: Once medical and legal inspections were complete and the new arrivals proceeded down the ‘Stairs of Separation’, the next task was to return to the Baggage Room to retrieve their belongings. From there, they waited in a line to board a ferryboat that would take them to their first destination….New York City, with whatever personal belongings they brought with them from their home country.
Throughout the 62 years as an immigration processing station, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island as their first stop in America. About 1/3 of those arriving in the U.S. had chosen to remain in the New York area. The remaining 2/3 moved on to other parts of the U.S. and Canada or other destinations. .
~ SITE 8 – Third Floor ~Moving to the third floor, the tour will proceed to the Dining Hall, the Hearing Room, and the dormitories. The tour guide will explain the usual process for those who were being detained due to not passing the medical or legal inspections. The Dining Hall on Ellis Island The original Dining Hall after extensive restorationTOUR GUIDE: The massive Dining Hall on Ellis Island could seat as many as 1000 people at a time. Free meals were served on the island, and a typical meal might have included beef stew, potatoes, bread, herring, baked beans and stewed prunes. There were also independent concession booths that sold pre-packaged foods to be purchased as people waited or to take with them when they left the island.
The original Dining Hall was decorated by wall murals painted by Edward Laning, an up-and-coming artist who scored a WPA commission in 1934 to paint the murals that decorated the walls. It was a public works project as part of the New Deal agency during the Great Depression that provided many out-of-work artists much needed income and a restored sense of pride. The theme of the paintings was "The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America", and the murals hung on the walls even after the buildings were closed in 1954. They had begun to perish from years of neglect, but the murals were eventually rescued during the massive restoration efforts of the 1980s, and they now decorate the walls of the refurbished Dining Hall on Ellis Island. Female and children's dormitory - Ellis IslandTOUR GUIDE: Legal detainees were taken to one of the dormitories until their case could be reviewed before a board in the Hearing Room. There was also a 700-bed hospital (on the south side of the island) that housed patients with various ailments until they recovered or were cleared by medical personnel. There was a main ward for routine health issues, and there were also separate, isolated wards for passengers who required quarantine, such as Ward E where passengers with measles were cared for until they were no longer contagious. Throughout Ellis Island's 62 years of serving as an immigration processing station, only 120,000 people with diseases, serious mental health issues, or criminal backgrounds were sent back to their home country. Children were occasionally turned away. Parents of children under 16 who didn’t clear inspections were to decide which parent stayed in America and which would return to the home country with their child. Those sent back to their home country traveled for free. Though only 2% were turned away, the island adopted the nicknames "Heartbreak Island" and "Island of Tears" by many who were sent back to their home country.Ellis Island processed its last immigrant on November 12, 1954, a Norwegian merchant seaman by the name of Arne Peterssen had overstayed his shore leave, and he became the last person processed on Ellis Island and was returned to his home country of Norway.
Due to new legislation in the 1920s and ‘30s, mass immigration to New York had begun to slow considerably. As immigration patterns waned, parts of Ellis Island’s facilities had been used as a federal detainment center and training facility during World War II. But it was deemed outdated for most uses, and all of the island’s buildings were permanently closed in 1954.Numerous plans had been proposed for restoring its buildings, including a rehabilitation center and a luxury resort marina. But all plans remained in political limbo for years on end, and none of the grand plans ever came to fruition. However, there was a major fundraising effort in the late 1970s led by U.S. automotive giant, Lee Iacocca, that reignited the idea of refurbishing the structures on Ellis Island and Liberty Island in order to create a national museum. And after many years of being closed during restoration, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum were officially opened to the public in 1990..
~ SITE 9 – Museum Exhibits and Displays ~The tour will then proceed to the main museum floor to view the various displays, exhibits and statues. The tour guide will explain the main points of interest. TOUR GUIDE: Today, Ellis Island serves as a historical museum to honor the many generations of immigrants who came to America to seek a better way of life. The museum tour retraces the steps that many of our ancestors took when first arriving in America. Each room and corridor in the main building features exhibits and displays that include photographs, posters, and original furniture and fixtures. It also includes touching and heart-rending stories of immigrants' personal journeys to America. It also includes original ship manifests, immigration records and other documents, and many personal belongings that were left behind.
PHOTO ABOVE - a statue of 15 year-old Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland, who was the first immigrant to step foot on Ellis Island. PHOTO ABOVE - one of the many exhibits that conveys some of the personal stories of immigrants who arrived on Ellis Island during its 62 years of operation as a U.S. immigration processing station from 1892 to 1954.
~ SITE 10 – The Kissing Post ~
The tour of Ellis Island Immigration Museum will end at the area of the main building that became known as ‘the Kissing Post.’ TOUR GUIDE: Just outside of the Registry Room, there is a large wooden pillar that stands near the stairs in the main building. This was the area where most people were reunited with family members who didn’t initially clear inspections and were detained for a time, or to meet with family who were already in America. They were generally swept up in emotion as they embraced and kissed. This area became known as ‘the Kissing Post’ to most. Today, that pillar is a symbol of hope and togetherness, and it’s marked with a plaque explaining its significance in U.S. immigration history. The 'Kissing Post' on Ellis Island
~ SITE 11 – Return to Manhattan Pier 15 and Lunch on Yacht ~
The New York Harbor/Ellis Island tour will conclude with a lunch buffet served in the dining level on the yacht, and a DJ will entertain tour guests with music on the lower deck until the yacht reaches Pier 15 in Manhattan.
But the fun isn't over yet. During the cruise back to the Manhattan pier, the DJ will offer random trivia about Ellis Island during the cruise and share stories with the tour guests about what impressed them most about the tour of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. For instance . . . TRIVIA
Did you know that 355 babies were born in the hospital on Ellis Island? Most of the babies were named in honor of the doctors who helped deliver them. Unfortunately, nearly ten times that had died on Ellis Island in the same span of time; records indicate that 3,500 individuals from Ellis Island were buried in paupers graves in various New York area cemeteries.TRIVIA
Did you know that prior to serving as a U.S. immigration processing station, Ellis Island was used for a time as a munitions depot for the military, but that it also was used to incarcerate and hang condemned pirates?TRIVIA
It's a misnomer than most immigrants were forced to change their name when they reached Ellis Island. In fact, most who changed their name had done so of their own accord, and most instituted the name change before they reached Ellis Island. There were language barriers with so many immigrants who didn't speak English (i.e, at one time more than 30 languages were spoken on Ellis Island). But there were interpreters to assist those with language barriers, and they assisted immigrants in completing forms and responding to questions that were asked of them. Most of the time, immigration officials simply put on the forms what they were told by the new arrival. The spelling of many names did become Anglecized during processing procedures, but most were attributed to ease in pronunciation rather than force.TRIVIA
Some of the more notable people to be processed on Ellis Island include composer Irving Berlin (1893, from Russia, age 5); comedian Bob Hope (1908, from England, age 5); actor Cary Grant (1920, from England, age 16); movie actor Bela Lugosi (1920, from Hungary, age 38)..