Save Ellis Island

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Save Ellis Island founded in 1999, is an organization to raise money for the restoration, preservation and rehabilitation of Ellis Island’s abandoned buildings and to support historic preservation.[1]

Ellis island.jpg

Significance of Ellis Island[edit]

Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. It was one of the primary immigration centers used in America starting at its opening in 1892.[2] The island features many buildings that once housed immigrants while waiting to enter the United States. The island also has the 750-bed Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, used to treat diseases and other ailments before immigrants could enter the country.[2] Many babies were also born in this hospital creating new American citizens. The immigration center on Ellis Island was used from 1892 to 1954. More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, reaching a peak of 1.25 million in 1907.[3] It has been estimated that one third of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island.[4]

Save Ellis Island’s goals and missions[edit]

A bridge from Liberty State Park to Ellis Island built to support restoration of buildings on the island

Only three out of 33 buildings have been restored on Ellis Island. Save Ellis Island has an agreement with the National Park Service to fundraise for the rehabilitation, restoration and reuse of buildings mainly on the south side of the island.[3] This agreement was finalized on February 1, 2001.[3] The National Park Service also works with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. Together they raise funds to restore the Great Hall and create The Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 1990.[2] Save Ellis Island plans to collaborate with the National Park Service until the project is done

Currently Save Ellis Island is working to raise the estimated $250 million it will take to restore the rest of the island. One of their main goals is to build the Ellis Island Institute and Conference Center in the remaining buildings. The Conference center is planned to be used for education about topics such as immigration, diversity, human health and well-being to go along with the themes of Ellis Island.[3] The center will also house a museum with interactive programs and exhibits.

To complete the project Save Ellis Island plans to create national campaigns such as the one with the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation to spread awareness and need to save Ellis Island. Save Ellis Island also plans to keep the fundraising and planning to mainly the private sector because of past complications with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation restoration project in 1986. These hardships are demonstrated in the book Idealists, Scoundrels, and the Lady: An Insider's View of the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Project. In this book, Francis Ross Holland, who worked with the National Park Service for most of his career and spent two years as director of restoration for the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island project sheds light on the political and personal ideologies that conflicted and almost ruined the project. Ultimately Holland says that it is necessary for nonprofit organizations to include powerful corporations and the entertainment industry to raise money efficiently.[5]

First building opened on south side[edit]

New Ferry Building before renovation

The south side of the island is dominated by the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. On April 2, 2007 Save Ellis Island and the National Park Service completed their first project of restoring the Ellis Island Ferry Building on the south side of the island. The project began in 2000 with exterior work and the interior restoration began in 2006 costing a total of $6.4 million.[4] After all buildings are complete visitors are free to view anything; but, currently only a limited number of visitors can view the Ferry Building and only by a guided tour. A grand opening event was held where they revealed the first exhibition Future in the Balance: Immigrants, Public Health and Ellis Island’s Hospitals.[4] This exhibit helps create a picture of the past and explain immigrant’s experiences when first arriving to the island. Perspectives from the doctors and nurses are also given. A large focus is given to how health was a main criterion for entering America. Immigrants who were thought to have severe infectious diseases, mental illness or who were pregnant were not allowed to enter America promptly. About 90 percent of immigrants passed into American after a once over that was known as a ‘six- second inspection’ and were on their way in a few hours.[4] The other 10 percent were treated and sometime quarantined. The Ferry Building Project was “funded by a combination of federal and New Jersey state funds and private financing, including substantial grants from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, Save America’s Treasures, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation and Tourism Cares.[5]

We Are Ellis Island[edit]

The "We Are Ellis Island" organization educates and raises funds for the restoration of Ellis Island primarily through a website that features several stories and experiences that people have had over the years with Ellis Island as well an ad campaign consisting of several TV and magazine ads. You can also buy “Save Ellis Island” t-shirts and donate to the restorations being done through the website. The Arrow division of the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation is working with Save Ellis Island by helping to create national ad campaigns featured on this website.[6] Many celebrities share their stories on the website as well as others who have remarkable Ellis Island stories. These stories are used to demonstrate how many lives have been affected by Ellis Island. Many families came to America by way of Ellis Island and have brought a piece of their culture with them. People share stories about their family’s experiences coming into America through Ellis Island to try and demonstrate the importance of the site and how it has shaped our population and society today. Broadway actor John Lloyd Young shares a story about how Italian music from his grandfather who immigrated to America in the 1920s and made his first stop at Ellis Island, sparked his love of music and career.[6]Katharine McPhee shares a story about her ancestors coming to America by way of Ellis Island and how the immigration by way of the island created a more global community.[6] All the stories used in this campaign try to demonstrate that Ellis Island should be preserved by showing how opportunities were given to those not born in America and how some think it still shapes their lives today.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.saveellisisland.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_us&JServSessionIdr004=23mb0ozin1.app246a
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Judith. American Quarterly. Vol. 44, No. 1. (Mar., 1992), pp. 82-100. < http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-0678%28199203%2944%3A1%3C82%3ACIHAEI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1>.
  3. ^ a b c d About Save Ellis Island. Save Ellis Island. 13 Sept. 2007. http://www.saveellisisland.org/site/PageServer?pagename=About
  4. ^ a b c d McGeehan, Patrick. “Final Stop for Thousands Of Ellis Island Immigrants Is Reopening After Repairs.” New York Times. 2 Apr 2007.
  5. ^ a b Bodnar, John. The Journal of American History. Vol. 80, No. 4. (Mar., 1994), pp. 1549-1550. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-8723%28199403%2980%3A4%3C1549%3AISATLA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-5
  6. ^ a b c We Are Ellis Island. Arrow Apparel. 13 Sept. 2007. <http://www.weareellisisland.org/>

External links[edit]