Ellis Island Day Date in the current year: January 1, 2024

Ellis Island Day Ellis Island Day is observed in the United States on January 1 every year. It commemorates the opening of an immigrant inspection and processing station on Ellis Island in New York Harbor on that day in 1892.

Ellis Island is an island in New York Harbor, situated north of Liberty Island that hosts the Statue of Liberty. It is split between New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey: the smaller natural section of the island is part of New York City, and its larger artificial section is part of Jersey City. Ellis Island is owned and administered by the federal government and operated by the National Park Service.

Originally named Little Oyster Island by the Dutch, Ellis Island received its current name in 1774, when it was acquired by New York City merchant Samuel Ellis. A small part of the island was owned by the city, and in 1794, the city started to use it for public defense purposes. Ellis Island was fully acquired by the federal government in 1808 and was used for military purposes throughout most of the 19th century.

In 1890, the federal government decided to use the island as a site for the first federal immigration station. The station opened on January 1, 1892. The first immigrant to enter the United States through the Ellis Island station was Annie Moore, a 17-year-old girl from Ireland who came to the country with her two younger brothers to reunite with their parents. The station processed 700 immigrants on its first day, over 400,000 immigrants over its first year, and 1.5 million of immigrants over the first five years of operation.

A fire of unknown origin destroyed the station and all immigration records from 1855 on July 15, 1897. A new, fireproof station opened in December 1900 and processed over 2,200 immigrants on its first day. Following the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1924, Ellis Island was converted into a detention center for migrants. During both World Wars, the U.S. military also used it to detain POWs.

The facility was closed on November 12, 1954 due to its massive upkeep costs. The island remained abandoned for the next decade, although there were several unsuccessful redevelopment attempts. In 1964, the National Park Service proposed that Ellis Island be made part of a national monument. Its redevelopment as a museum and park was approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson in August 1965.

January 1, 1992 was proclaimed as National Ellis Island Day by President George H. W. Bush to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first immigrant station on Ellis Island. Although it was intended as a one-time celebration, people have been referring to January 1 as Ellis Island Day ever since.

Ellis Island Day is a great day to learn more about U.S. immigration history or visit Ellis Island if you live close by (you can plan your visit and arrange tickets through the official website of the National Park Service; the museum should be open on New Year’s Day, but it’s better to check the schedule beforehand). You can also celebrate by researching your family history, educating yourself on the positive effects of immigration on the U.S. economy, and spreading the word about the day on social media using #EllisIslandDay.

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Ellis Island Day, observances in the United States, Ellis Island, Ellis Island immigration station, US immigration history