Ellis Island National Monument is maintained by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Ferries, which also stop at the nearby Statue of Liberty, run from Battery Park in Manhattan (tickets sold at Castle Clinton) and Liberty State Park in New Jersey from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, with extended hours in summer. Admission to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is free. (If you want to climb to the crown of the statue, make sure you catch the ferry at 8:30 a.m.) For more information on the ferry, call (212) 269-5755.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum includes more than 30 galleries of artifacts and historic images, covering 200,000 square feet. Two theaters feature Island of Hope, Island of Tears, a free half-hour movie documentary. Don’t miss the short play, Ellis Island Stories, based on interviews with immigrants and Ellis Island inspectors. The museum includes a bookstore, gift shop and cafeteria.
The American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island, the largest wall of names in the world, honors all who came and built America. Whether your immigrant ancestors entered through Ellis Island, through another port, or forcibly as slaves, you can memorialize them on the Wall of Honor.
The wall is one of the chief fund-raisers for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. A minimum contribution of $100 is required to place a name on the wall. To date, 600,000 names have been inscribed. They range from George Washington’s great-grandfather and John F. Kennedy’s great-grandparents to the ancestors of Gregory Peck, Cicely Tyson and Jay Leno. Computer kiosks in the Ellis Island museum allows visitors to search for names on the wall, as well as for donors.
New submissions for the wall will be added in a “New Millennium” addition scheduled for April 2000. For more information, contact Donor Services at (212) 883-1986 or write Ellis Campaign, 52 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, NY 10017-3898. You can also register a name online at www.wallofhonor.com/names.