The Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

This post will show you how to get to the Statue of Liberty, how to choose a ticket type, how to get pedestal and crown access as well as guided tours of Liberty and Ellis Island. Tickets are included for free with the purchase of most tourist discount passes.

 

 


TICKETS FOR THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

In this section, we explain the difference between a reserve-ticket and a flex-ticket, the differences between a general admission ticket vs. a pedestal ticket vs. a crown ticket.

Technically, there is no cost to visit Liberty Island.

What you have to pay for is the ticket for ferry passage and whether or not you would like access to the statue’s pedestal or her crown. (Crown tickets have an additional fee).  

Ferry to the Statue of Liberty

 

All ticket types include audio tours as well as Park Ranger talks on both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.  


Reserve vs. Flex Tickets

The first thing to consider is whether you want or need a reserve or flex-ticket.

A reserve ticket is for a specified time on a specified day. Holders of a reserve-ticket get to enter the security line and board the ferries at that specified time.

 

Reserved Tickets Statue of Liberty

 

Reserve tickets are available for general admission and are the only type of ticket available for pedestal or crown access.

They can be purchased in advance on the website of Statue Cruises or purchased on-site (subject to availability).

If they are sold out or your preferred time isn’t available there, you can also get reserved tickets for both general admission and pedestal from Get Your Guide, which also provides onsite concierge service to help guide you and reduce potential stress.

 

Get Your Guide Pedestal Tickets Statue of Liberty

 

One advantage of a reserved-ticket is that reserved-ticket holders are given priority access to the security screening and ferries.

But the disadvantage is you are set to a particular time and thus reduces flexibility. 

Flex-tickets are also available for general admission, which means access to both Liberty and Ellis Islands, but no access to the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal or crown.

Flex-tickets allow you to come whenever the ferries are running within a certain time-frame.

 

Flex Ticket Statue of Liberty

 

Flex-tickets are what you will get if you get your tickets through a tourist pass or through a bus tour package.

Get Your Guide also sells flex-tickets. Statue Cruises does not sell flex-tickets.

The clear advantage of a flex-ticket is flexibility. You don’t need your travel itinerary set in stone.

The main disadvantage, however, is that you do not get priority access to the security and ferry lines and you first have to go to the ticket office to get your ticket.

This could add an hour or more to your time spent here during peak times, so be sure to come as early as you can to avoid the crowds (which is our advice no matter which ticket you get).

Read our plan your visit section for more tips for a smooth experience.

Refunds are given for cancellations with at least 24 hours notice if you purchase through Statue Cruises. 3rd party vendors each have their own rules.

New York Tourist Discount Passes

** reserve only flex-tickets are included for free with the purchase of the Sightseeing Pass, City Pass, New York Pass, and the Explorer Pass. Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.**


General Admission, Pedestal Access, and Crown Tickets

The next thing to consider is what type of access do you want. There are 3 options: general admission, pedestal access, and crown access. 

Note that all three types of tickets include entrance to the fantastic new Statue of Liberty Museum, that opened in 2019.

 

Statue of Liberty Ticket Options

 


General Admission

This is the most common ticket. It grants you access to both Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty Museum, and Ellis Island.

It does not include access to the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal or crown. 

There are reserve as well as flex tickets available for general admission.

 

Get Your Guide Pedestal Tickets Statue of Liberty

 

You could also book reserve tickets through Get Your Guide. This is a great option for when morning tickets on your day of choice are sold out.

For an extra $6/ticket, you will also get onsite concierge service to guide you upon arrival at Battery Park, a service that some seem to like based on the reviews.

General admission flex tickets can be reserved through Get Your Guide.

** general admission flex-tickets are included for free with the purchase of the Sightseeing Pass, City Pass, New York Pass, and the Explorer Pass. 

Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.  

New York Tourist Discount Passes

The same goes for bus company combination tickets


Pedestal Access

Same prices as the general admission ticket above, but also includes access to the pedestal as well as the observation deck.

Pedestal access tickets are not available as a flex ticket. You will have to choose a specific time.

 

Statue of Liberty Pedestal Access

 

It’s recommended that you order pedestal access in advance. A very limited number of passes may be available at the ticket offices early in the morning, but you shouldn’t rely on this.

Read more on the pedestal.  

You could also book through Get Your Guide. For an extra $6/ticket, you will also get onsite concierge service to guide you upon arrival at Battery Park, a service that some seem to like based on the reviews.

  • $18.50 – Adult | $14 – Senior 62+ | $9 – Child 4-12 | Free – Child under 4.

If you take a guided tour, pedestal tickets are guaranteed. 


Pedestal and Crown Access

Includes everything mentioned above with the addition of crown access. Tickets to access the crown must be purchased in advance tickets can be sold out months in advance.  

Read below or visit the National Park Service’s webpage to learn about all of the restrictions on ticket purchase and access to the crown. 

Read more on the crown.

  • $21.50 – Adult | $17 – Senior 62+ | $12 – Child 5-13
  • Children under 4 are not permitted to the crown.  
  • Only 4 crown reservations per order allowed.
  • Only 1 reservation per person per 6 months allowed.
  • Tickets are non-transferable.

We also have a post detailing the 7 ways to buy tickets to the Statue of Liberty.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

In this section, we provide tips on how to get to Battery Park and the NY ferries (just below), provide information about security and prohibited items, advice on how much time to plan for, as well as what food options you have.


How to Get to the Ferries

There is only one way to visit the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Museum and that is by ferries operated by Statue Cruises and there are two locations where you can take the ferry.  

The vast majority of visitors to New York City will take the ferry from Lower Manhattan (see map below), but you can also leave from New Jersey.

The closest subway stations are Bowling Green, which is accessed by the 4 and 5 trains and South Ferry Station, which is accessed by the 1 train.  

You can also reach the ferry landing via Rector Street Station on the N and R Train, Wall Street Station on the 2 and 3 train and Broad Street Station J and Z trains.

We recommend that you use this link for directions to the Statue Cruises terminal.

TIP: The Staten Island Ferry cruises past the Statue of Liberty for free.

 

Click the map for a larger mapHow to get to the Statue of Liberty Ferry

 

You can also reach the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River at Liberty State Park in Jersey City (map).

This is the only way to get to the island, as private vessels will not be permitted to dock at either site. 


Tip: If you visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the morning from Manhattan, you should consider our 2 pm Lower Manhattan Walking Tour, or consider our audio tour version of this tour. 


Will call and walk-up tickets are available at the ticket booths inside of Castle Clinton (image below).

 

Security Lines for the Statue of Liberty

 


Security and Prohibited Items

Once you have your tickets, you will need to proceed to the security line which is just outside of the Castle Clinton structure.

The security is similar to airport security and the National Park Service recommends that you be flexible with your time.

The whole security process usually takes 45-60 minutes, but can take a few hours, especially for flex-ticket holders during peak times in the high season.  

 

Security Line for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

 

Once you pass through security, you will join another line to board the next available ferry.

If you have pedestal or crown tickets, there are additional security requirements on Liberty Island.  


Pro Tip: If you are traveling during the peak season, we highly recommend that you plan to take the first ferry at 9:30 am, which is the same ferry that most guided tours take. 


Prohibited items include (from the National Park Service website):

  • ALL weapons, including firearms, any dangerous items, any “dual-use” items that could be dangerous. All of these items are strictly prohibited in the park and on the ferry system.
  • Scissors, sharp instruments and tools are also prohibited.
  • LARGE packages. suitcases, carry-on luggage, and other large parcels will not be permitted on the ferry systems or at Liberty and Ellis Islands. There are many places near the ferry landing where you can store your luggage for just $6/piece.
  • Face masks and/or costumes that are designed to conceal the identity of a person are prohibited.

Any prohibited item that you surrender will not be returned to you, so be sure not to bring it with you or find a place to store it.

It’s important to also be aware that there are no storage lockers at either the NYC or New Jersey departure points though there are lockers on Liberty Island for those with pedestal or crown tickets.

 


How Much Time to Devote

How much time you will need will depend much on what time of the year you are there and what time of day you choose. It also depends on whether you have pedestal and crown tickets.

The ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island depart every 15-20 minutes.

The first ferry departs at 8:30 am in the high season and 9:00 am in the low season and the last ferry departs at 4:00 pm in the high season and 3:30 pm in the low season.

The last ferry from Liberty Island departs at 5:00 pm in the low season and 5:45 pm in the high season. The same goes for ferries from Ellis Island.

We can’t stress this enough. Plan to get here as early as possible, preferably by 8:00 am. As you can see in the Google popular times image below, crowds are significantly smaller in the early morning hours.

 

first and last ferries to the Statue of Liberty

 

If you plan to visit both islands and take in all the sites you need to allow yourself enough time to see everything without having to rush through your day.

Expect to spend 4-5 hours for security, ferry rides and visiting both islands if you only have general admission. The earlier you are here, the shorter the amount of time you will spend.

According to Statue Cruises, tickets for 2:00 pm or later will only afford you adequate time to visit either Liberty Island or Ellis Island, not both. 

You need to allow for a minimum of 5-6 hours in order for you to see everything, especially if you have pedestal or crown tickets. 

You’ll also need to factor in additional wait times during peak season for everything, lines for tickets or will call, security and ferries.

So, if you are coming during the peak season, get reserved tickets for the first ferry of the day and print them out before arriving (and thank us for this tip later). 

There is a reason why most guided tours take the first ferry of the day. Oh, and guided tours are a great way to get pedestal tickets when they are otherwise sold out.

Make sure that when you leave from Ellis Island at the end of the day that you board the right ferry back.

If you get on the wrong one you could end up back in Liberty Island, or in the wrong state altogether.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY FOOD OPTIONS

Depending on how long you plan to spend at Liberty Island and/or Ellis Island, you may want to consider grabbing a bite to eat at some point. 

This section will provide information about each of the locations where you can get something to eat or drink either before, during or after your trip.

NOTE: If you get either pedestal or crown tickets, please keep in mind that no food and drink is allowed inside the Statue of Liberty. However, you can store both in lockers on Liberty Island. 


Statue Cafe

There is also a cafe on Liberty Island (as well as one on Ellis Island) which serves a variety of food (menu).

Reviews indicate that the menu is decent and the prices are a bit steep, but it is a good place to grab a bite if you get hungry during your outing.

 

Crown Cafe Outside Seating

 

They also have a kids menu and games for children and outdoor seating. Indoor seating can be limited in the high season, which leads to complaints.

Bring Your Own Food

We recommend this option. This is actually one of the best options because you will have more choice and control over what you eat. It’ll be cheaper as well.

You can bring food with you on both islands. There are plenty of places on both islands to sit down and have a “picnic”. Of course, this is weather dependent.

Stop at a deli near your hotel or accommodation or on your way to Battery Park. 

Cafe Plaza Deli

This deli is located at the foot of Battery Park, which is one of the departure points for Statue Cruises. You can get sandwiches here and have them wrapped to take with you on the boat. 

Alternatively, you could just eat here before or after your visit to the Statue of Liberty.

Its reviews are mixed. Most of the negative reviews originate during the busy lunch rush. You will most likely come here before or after this rush.

Starbucks

Located right across the street from Battery Park, this Starbucks is probably the best place to grab a cup of coffee before heading to the Statue Cruises departure point. 

Cruise Concessions

If you get hungry while on the boat, there are concessions available here as well. You won’t necessarily find anything amazing, but if you want something to eat or drink, they have options to consider during the cruise.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY PEDESTAL TICKETS

The actual pedestal that was designed for the Statue is an amazing design feature. Designed specifically to show off Lady Liberty herself, it is approximately half the size of the statue.

From the pedestal level, you’ll have some incredible views of Ellis Island, New York, New Jersey, and the New York Harbor altogether.

While the visit to the pedestal is free, advanced reservations are strongly suggested.

There are a limited number of people that will have access to the pedestal at any given time so if you don’t make reservations ahead of time you may not be granted access.  

(Guided tours include guaranteed pedestal access).

View from Statue of Liberty Pedestal

 

  • $18.50 – Adult | $14 – Senior 62+ | $9 – Child 4-12 | Free – Child under 4.
  • Purchase advanced pedestal tickets here.

You could also book through Get Your Guide. For an extra $6/ticket, you will also get onsite concierge service to guide you upon arrival at Battery Park, a service that some seem to like based on the reviews.

If you take a guided tour, pedestal tickets are guaranteed.

The National Park Service does have some statue access restrictions:

  • No food, drinks or backpacks permitted.
  • No strollers.
  • No long umbrellas.
  • Lockers available to store bags and other belongings for an additional $2 per locker.
  • Visit the National Park Service’s website to read all the restrictions for access to the pedestal.

Read our in-depth post on pedestal tickets.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY CROWN TICKETS 

Most people who visit the statue are keen to climb to the very top of the crown.

If this is your plan, and you can get the tickets, then make sure that you’re able to handle the climb, as there is no elevator.

The walk to the crown is equivalent to climbing 22 flights of stairs but it will be well worth the effort if you can make it (that’s 154 steps in a closed spiral staircase) and 377 total steps from the main lobby.

At the top, you will have the privilege of seeing the incredible panoramic views of the majestic New York City skyline with limited views of Brooklyn along with the actual framework designed by Gustave Eiffel used to support the Lady herself.

 

View from the Statue of Liberty Crown

 

The Crown does have access restrictions. Below are most, but please visit their webpage for a complete list.

  • Adults must show photo id.
  • Lockers are available to store bags and other belongings.
  • Only 1 camera per person is permitted into the crown.
  • Children must be at least 4′ (1.2 m) tall.

Anyone looking for last-minute crown tickets will want to keep an eye on Statue Cruise’s crown tickets calendar. It can’t hurt to call them directly at 1-877-523-9849.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND TOURS 

As stated above, there is only one cruise company that is able to drop guests off at Liberty Island: Statue Cruises.

Each ferry ticket entitles you to an audio tour, which is offered in multiple languages as well as U.S. Park Ranger (and volunteer) guided tours of both Liberty and Ellis Island.


TIP: We also offer a free, GPS-led audio tour of both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island that you can download before you go. Here’s a sample.


However, there are a handful of walking tour companies who offer guided tours of Liberty and Ellis Island, which include your ticket for the ferry and pedestal access.

Each of these services is very highly rated and fairly priced. Expect ticket costs to range from $50-$70 on average.

Read our full post that details each of these tours.

 

 

There are also a number of other boat tour companies that cruise past the Statue of Liberty, and provide commentary on board.

Check out our post detailing the specific boat companies that offer Statue of Liberty cruises so to help decide which is best for you.  

If you are planning on purchasing one of the discount tourist passes, keep in mind that they also include several boat cruises. 

Be sure to read our post which compares the different tourist passes.

 


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STATUE OF LIBERTY MUSEUM

In 2019, the new Statue of Liberty museum opened on Liberty Island.  Admission is included in the price of your ferry ticket, regardless of which kind of ticket you purchased.

This spectacular museum is nearly 26,000 square feet (2,415 square meters) and is an architectural gem. You should definitely plan to spend some time in this fascinating museum.

 

 

What You Will See

When you enter, you pass through a space dedicated to donors who contributed $2 million or more to this museum which cost over $100 million to construct.

After that, you enter the first gallery called Immersive Theater. It is a seatless theater where you can wander through the space while a 10-minute film plays on a loop. 

The film is about the Statue of Liberty’s construction and also its status as a symbol of hope and freedom.

The next gallery is the Engagement Gallery which brings to life the 19th-century Parisian workshop of the statue’s sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. 

There are recreations of his models for the statue as well as a scale-size replica of the statue’s copper foot.

The last space is the Inspiration Gallery that has digital kiosks where visitors can take photo self-portraits with backdrops of images that symbolize liberty to them. 

These photos are added to a growing collage of inspirational images to an ever-growing digital experience called Becoming Liberty.

The last space you pass through holds an especially moving object. The original 3,600-pound copper flame that sat atop the torch, which was replaced in 1984.

The Statue of Liberty Museum is highly recommended. Plan time into your visit to Liberty Island as you will not want to miss this special museum.

 


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ELLIS ISLAND 

Most people planning their trip to Ellis Island will also be stopping at Liberty Island, which is the first stop.  

If you are going directly to Ellis Island, then expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on the ferry before you arrive.

In this section, we have a self-guided Ellis Island tour for your visit. 

Note: You can take a special Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour that lasts 90-minutes and takes you through several buildings and the hospital grounds. See below for more information.

 

 


SELF-GUIDED TOUR

As you disembark the ferry, try to imagine what it must have been like for the passengers.

Many immigrants had traveled for hundreds of miles to the nearest seaport and then their journeys across the Atlantic Ocean took between 1 and 2 weeks, on ships with as many as 3,000 people on board.

Most of the passengers were in third class (what was referred to as steerage), which was a large area at the ship’s bottom.

 

Ellis Island Main Building

 

When you enter the main building you will be in the massive baggage room. This is where newly arriving immigrants were directed and where they were given identity tags.

Many of the arriving immigrants did not speak English. It was a very chaotic scene. The passengers could check their baggage here.  

Once you pass the entry doors, you will notice the displays of old luggage in the middle area of the room.    

 

Ellis Island Baggage Area

 

Straight ahead you’ll see the entrance to the Peopling of America Exhibit and the World Migration Globe.  

Also located on the first floor are the gift shops and the Ellis Island Cafe (which is located in the same spot as the original cafeteria.)

There is also an outdoor cafe for the warmer weather days and a theater on this floor showing a 30-minute film titled “Island of Hope, Island of Tears“. 

It’s on this floor that you could leave the building to access the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. You can also access the Wall of Honor by walking around the island from the point of ferry arrival.  

Below is a Google Street View of the Wall of Honor that you can use as a virtual tour.

 

 

There is also an Ellis Island Kids exhibit and the American Family Immigration History Center where you can look up your family’s history if they passed through Ellis Island.


World Migration Globe

 You’ll definitely want to get a closer look. The graphics and colors change. It’s super cool and informative!  

 

World Migration Globe

 

On either side of the Globe are introductory exhibits about the history of immigration to America. 


EXHIBITS

Journeys: The Peopling of America

The first part of this exhibit focuses on the history of immigration to America from 1550-1890, just before Ellis Island opened.

Definitely take your time exploring the fascinating displays and accounts of how people arrived here, some by choice and some involuntarily.

You’ll really get a sense of how so many diverse groups of people populated the land that would become America.

The second part focuses on immigration from 1954 (just after the Ellis Island processing center closed) through today.

Through first-hand accounts and a variety of media, this exhibit will give you a close up look at the most recent history of immigration to America.  

From here, you can visit the Citizenship Gallery and learn about the process of becoming an American citizen.


The Great Hall and Registration Room

Walk or take the elevator up to the second floor. Now you will enter the beautiful Great Hall.

Just take a moment and try to put yourselves in the shoes of the immigrants who took those same stairs from the baggage room and arrived right here.  

 

 

Imagine the crowds of over 5,000 people a day, every day, for decades. Imagine the noise, the smells, and all the activity.

Here was where the legal and medical examinations of the immigrants took place.

The process was often very frightening for the new arrivals. The average processing time was 3-4 hours, but for the unfortunate, it could mean a much longer ordeal and could even lead to deportation.  

Here was a complicated labyrinth of American bureaucracy presented to the immigrants in a foreign language.

Here the immigrants were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and how much money they had on them.  

The room itself is quite remarkable. Look up and admire the grand Gustavino tiled ceiling(28,880 tiles!).   

It replaced the former ceiling after shock waves from the Black Tom Explosion of 1916, in which a thousand tons of munitions, intended to be sent to WWI allies in France and England, were sabotaged and detonated by German agents in Black Tom Wharf, New Jersey.

Only 17 tiles were replaced in the 1990 restoration. The remaining 28,863 date back to 1916! The entire room has been restored to its 1918-1924 state.


Stairs of Separation

After the registry room, the next step for immigrants was the stairs of separation.

The stairs had three areas: one for immigrants destined for New Jersey, one of those headed to New York, and the third for those who were detained.

This was a joy for some and sorrow for others. Most families would be brought together but others would learn that their loved ones had been detained.

If they did not pass the legal screening, they would be held in the dormitories until they were able to prove that they were legally eligible to enter the country.

There was also a medical screening. If the immigrants did not pass the medical screening, they were sent to Ellis Island Hospital until they were healthy enough to be admitted.

The area has been off-limits to the public since it closed but private group hard-hat tours are available.

Read about how to take a Hospital Tour below.


 Through America’s Gate 

This exhibit is located in the west wing of the second floor. 

Board of Special Inquiry Room Ellis Island

It demonstrates how immigrants were processed on Ellis Island, including how the ‘undesirables'(criminals, anarchists, the disabled) were screened out.  

It also shows how some immigrants were permitted entry after five hours, and how an unfortunate few were not allowed in.

Here you’ll find fascinating rooms like witness waiting rooms, and detention areas. 

You’ll also see the Hearing Room. Any newly arriving immigrant who was suspected of being a public charge or having links to certain political groups was brought before the Board of Special Inquiry.

As many as 100 hearings were held daily. Approximately 20% of the immigrants who went through this process was denied entry into America.

In the East Wing, you’ll find an exhibit that concentrates on United States immigration from 1880-1924.

In this 44 year period, over 25 million people entered the United States.  During this period, more people migrated around the globe than at any point in history.  

Though many migrated to other areas around the world, the United States was the most popular destination.

On the third floor, on the balcony which overlooks the registry room, you’ll find a recreated dormitory room.  

Dormatories at Ellis Island

In the first eight years of the 20th century, two very long and narrow rooms, on opposite sides of the balcony, served as dormitories and could hold up to 300 people.  

In 1908, the rooms were subdivided into smaller rooms, such as the recreated one on display.

The average stay of detainees was one night. Men and women slept separately.

In the East Wing on the third floor is the Ellis Island Chronicles.  Here you’ll learn all about how Ellis Island grew from a mere 3.3 acres to 27 acres (or 11 hectares) and becoming the nation’s central immigration port for several decades.

Also in the East Wing on the 3rd floor, Treasures From Home is a collection of artifacts donated by families of immigrants who traveled through Ellis Island during peak immigration years.

The third floor also features Silent Voices, an exhibit that portrays through photographs and other objects the abandoned state of Ellis Island after it was shut down in 1954 and before restoration began in the 1980s.

Additionally, you’ll find Restoring a Landmark on the third floor, which recounts the incredible restoration of Ellis Island.

You can also see the Bob Hope Memorial Research Library.  Bob Hope was a famous comedian who immigrated through Ellis Island with his family on March 30, 1908.

The library features books, periodicals, photographs, films, and many other research tools. Though you will not be able to borrow an item, a staff member is there to assist you.

If you have time before the next ferry departs, feel free to do some more exploring, check out a film, research family archives, browse in the gift shop or bookstore, or just relax in the cafe!

 


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ELLIS ISLAND HOSPITAL AND HARD HAT TOURS 

It is now possible to tour part of the abandoned hospital complex. Guests are required to wear hardhats, hence the tour name.

These guided 90-minute tours visit select areas of the unrestored Ellis Island Hospital.

Find out about these tours here.

 

 


About the Ellis Island Hospital  

The Ellis Island immigrant hospital was the first public health hospital in the United States. It held new arrivals who were thought unfit to enter the country.  

 

Birdseye View of Ellis Island

 

Operating from 1902 until 1930, the Ellis Island Hospital complex was a state of the art medical facility that was the last line of defense for the United States of America against contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera, trachoma, diphtheria and countless other ailments.

The 29 buildings included a contagious disease ward, laundry room, doctor’s quarters, an autopsy theater, a kitchen, power plant, dormitories, operating rooms, and a crematorium.  

Approximately 3500 people perished while detained at the hospital and roughly 350 babies were born here.  

If you can’t make the tour, you can watch a 55-minute documentary on the hospital titled “Forgotten Ellis Island”.

 


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