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Ellis Island

This island served as New York’s main immigration station from 1892 until 1954.

TravelCurious Tip

Always purchase your ticket online to avoid huge queues, and don’t forget to pick up a free audioguide in the lobby

Historically, Ellis Island was the gateway to America. Before planes became so ubiquitous, immigrants would step off a steamboat and pass through this processing station to enter New York. Between 1892 and 1924, over 12 million immigrants did just that. It has been estimated that almost 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.


Over time, Ellis Island has known many names: it was, for example, Oyster Island during the Dutch and English colonial periods due to its abundant oyster beds. Yet when Samuel Ellis became the island’s private owner in the 1770s he put his name on it — and it stuck. Since then it has variously been a site for pirates, a harbour fort and ordinance depot called Fort Gibson, and finally an immigrant station, watched over by the Statue of Liberty.


Island of Hope, Island of Tears

The museum can be found in the Main Building of the former immigration station complex, a restored Renaissance Revival structure. It provides a poignant tribute to the experience of being an immigrant, focusing on those passengers in third class who faced a more arduous and desperate journey, always with the risk of being sent back where they came from.


The exhibitions focus on their stories, while also taking a broader historical perspective to understand the geopolitics behind the flux of people — be sure to check out the World Migration Globe, a radiant sphere that illustrates migration patterns throughout human history. Besides that, there is also a huge collection of personal objects, official documents, photographs and film footage to be seen.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
Battery Park
This historic park on Manhattan's southern tip hosts a number of memorials and a rather special carousel.
Charging Bull
A guerilla installation following the 1987 stock market crash, the Charging Bull remains in the financial district as a symbol of energy, strength and unpredictability.
Statue of Liberty
An emblem of America and its ideals of freedom, Lady Liberty has welcomed visitors since 1886.
Pedestal Museum
Located inside the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the museum displays interesting Liberty exhibits including her original torch.
Bowling Green
Small park where a statue of George III used to reign over Lower Manhattan
Castle Clinton
19th century fort in Battery Park

Related Tours

Democracy and Hope: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour
See New York through a different perspective in a tour which takes you out to the islands in Upper Bay. With visits to both the State of Liberty and Ellis Island, you will be able to see New York from the perspective of so many of the immigrants who helped grow the wealth and history of the United States. 

  • See the breathtaking Statue of Liberty
  • Appreciate the contribution of American immigrants visiting Ellis Island
  • Go around the historic Castle Clinton
Lady Liberty

You will begin your tour at Castle Clinton, a former Fort in Battery Park, where you will board the ferry to the famous Liberty Island. Along the way, you will learn about the remarkable history of the Statue of Liberty, as well as its significance to modern America. From here you will also be able to enjoy a breathtaking view over the Manhattan skylines and harbor. 

Boarding at Liberty Island, you will hear all about the fascinating history of the Liberty figure, and how this 100th birthday gift to America from France was shipped from Paris to New York, and finally unveiled after 10 years of construction in 1886. You will also pay a visit to the fascinating Pedestal Museum, where you will be able to venture to the top of Lady Liberty’s pedestal for a perfect view over the harbor. 

Built on Immigration

It is estimated that forty percent of the entire US population can trace at least one relative's arrival to the US, through the port of New York and Ellis Island. At Ellis Island you will discover the many extraordinary stories of families journeying to New York City since the earliest days of the United States founding. At the museum, your expert local guide will talk you through some of the exhibits on display. You will also have time to properly enjoy the museum at your own pace, as you immerse yourself in a similar journey to that of a newly arrived person. You will be able to grab a bite to eat on the island, or alternatively, you may purchase some snacks on the ferry back to Manhattan.

Origins of NYC Group Walking Tour with Statue of Liberty Tickets
NYC started as a small Dutch settlement - two centuries later, it is one of the world's greatest cities. This meteoric rise was fuelled by revolutionaries and immigrants.  On this original tour of the Southern Tip of NYC you will: 

  • Learn about one of America's revolutionary founding fathers and famous immigrant, Alexander Hamilton 
  • See what remains of a fence that was cut apart for bullets used by the rebels in the Revolutionary War
  • Visit the site where Washington was inaugurated and gave his farewell address at the historic Fraunces Tavern
  • Hear stories from three centuries of immigrants who made a new life for themselves in New York City
  • Stand in the spot where families waited for news of their loved ones aboard the Titanic
  • Visit the hallowed grounds of the 9/11 Memorial 
  • Learn about the 1920 Wall Street Bombing and the origins of the name of this famous street
  • Hop aboard a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, for an audio tour of each historic place
Your tour of New York City begins with the story of one of America's most famous immigrants, Alexander Hamilton. The founding father, who created the American financial system, was born in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and departed for the US to attend university. He landed in New York City, where tens of millions of others, have followed in his footsteps. 

On your tour of Lower Manhattan,  see places where events led to the American Revolution, the site of the first inaugural address,  Hamilton's personal residence, his grave site at Trinity Church. You will visit the famous 'Charging Bull' and find Hamilton's fingerprint on our current economic system. 

Then, your tour continues through the story of the immigrants who followed Hamilton through today. See where the family members of Titanic victims awaited news of their loved ones at the White Star line offices, and  then continue on to the National September 11 Memorial pools for each tower. Here, you can pay your respects to the fallen and ponder how the terror attack has impacted US immigration policy for two decades. 

Your guide will then give you your tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, before departing with you. 

Please allow a total of  3.5 hours for  the entire experience to include the 1.5-hour walking tour and 2 hours for Liberty Island Trip which is done on your own with audio guides.
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