Sunday, June 24, 2012

NYC Part 6 Ellis Island

This was my first time on Ellis Island, even though I've traveled to NYC before.

Once the immigrants arrived to the States, they were detained at Ellis Island, in order to gather information and conduct testing, before being permitted into the States.

The immigrants, tired, hungry, some very ill, confused by the area and language barrier... were brought to a large room.  Herded in like cattle.  Information was logged, such as names, children, etc.

Each immigrant was evaluated for physical and mental handicaps or health issues.  Below is a picture of the procedures.  It looks simple on the diagram, but if you walk through the rooms... each one having test lined up to see if a person has good vision, can pass certain intelligence tests, health screening...  it must have been a daunting and scary experience.

Greg commented about the "small white tiles"in the rooms... I think it gave him an eerie feeling, something that belonged in a mental ward with a straight jacket.

(The picture of my Dad below - he had a heel spur, so he used the wheelchair whenever one was available.  In the picture, Dad is next to an old fashioned wheel chair.)

The next set of pictures are my favorite on the island.  Inspectors wrote descriptions about the immigrants and their situations.  Maybe it's the language or being able to visualize the person via the words... but I thought these were interesting.  I think you can click on the picture to make it larger (easier to read).

Here are a few quotes:

"She was much broken by detention.  She had suffering written on her lined face and in her dim eyes."

"She was less than 5 feet tall, with a small face, and a nose that might have been aquiline if it had been pointed.  Her small brown shrewd eyes and well cut mouth spoke of intelligence and determination."

"Man had very swarthy skin, light brown eyes, with very long curly eyelashes, somewhat aquiline nose, thick black curly hair, and a most dramatic manner.  "Do something for me, most beloved sister!"  he would dash out at me, extending his arms forward and looking at me intently with unmoving eyes like some great hairy bird."

We left Ellis Island to head back to NYC and meet up with my friend, Lauren.  She lives in NYC and recommended a pizza place.


Lilly said...

Those places make me so sad simply because I dont think it has changed much if you go and visit modern day detention centres now. I am not sure I would even qualify to get into the country I was born in if I had to go through similar tests. This was a great post Aleta, very, very interesting.

Glynis Jolly said...

My grandfather came to the US via Ellis Island. He spoke nothing but low German at the time. He never did learn how to read English except for a few words here and there.

That is one place I wasn't able to see when I was in NY. Thanks for sharing your photos.