Around the time of the American Revolution, Samuel Ellis acquired Bucking Island in the middle of New York Bay.
Ellis Island was then ceded to the United States government in 1808.
From 1808 until the War of 1812, the island was a federal arsenal.
At the end of the War of 1812, Fort Gibson was built on Ellis Island and later a naval magazine.
In the first half of the 19th century, most immigrants arriving in New York City landed at docks on the east side of the tip of Manhattan, around South Street. On August 1, 1855, Castle Clinton became the Emigrant Landing Depot, functioning as the New York State immigrant processing facility (the nation’s first such entity).
Then on April 18, 1890, the Federal Government assumed control of immigration.
As a result, Congress ordered the construction of America’s first Federal immigration station on Ellis Island.
The Ellis Island Immigration inspection facility opened on January 1, 1892.
Some 700 immigrants were processed that first day, then almost 450,000 immigrants were processed during its first year.
Then on June 15, 1897, a fire of unknown origin, possibly caused by faulty wiring, turned the wooden structures on Ellis Island into ashes. No loss of life was reported, but most of the immigration records dating back to 1855 were destroyed.
Ellis Island was rebuilt and opened once again on December 17, 1900, with officials estimating that some 5,000 immigrants could be processed per day.
The peak year for immigration at Ellis Island was 1907.
The all-time daily high occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants arrived at Ellis Island.
By the end of 1907, 1,004,756 immigrants had passed through Ellis Island that year.
Then after the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed, immigration became greatly restricted and the only immigrants to pass through the station were displaced persons or war refugees.
By the time Ellis Island closed on November 12, 1954, twelve million immigrants had been processed by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration.
Today, over 100 million Americans – one third of the population – can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who first arrived in America at Ellis Island before dispersing to points all over the country.
Now WE know em