What Is Significant About Ellis Island?

Ellis Island was a federal facility in the United States that handled immigration from 1892 to 1954. The facility was intended to determine an individual's eligibility to enter the United States.

During Ellis Island's years of operation, there were several periods of massive immigrant influx to the United States from countries suffering from economic depression, civil conflict and other unrest. The highest rate of immigration occurred between 1900 and 1914, and it decreased dramatically when policies intended to regulate the nationalities and amount of immigrants were enacted in 1921 and 1924. During the station's busiest years, an average of 5,000 to 10,000 immigrants would pass through the system on a daily basis. Immigrants arriving in the United States with the hope of finding new opportunities would first go through the immigration process on Ellis Island. The process typically took three to seven hours to complete, although it could take several days or even weeks on occasion.

The immigration process comprised of medical and legal inspections that were necessary for an individual to pass before being allowed into the country. Sometimes families were divided and forced apart if all members did not pass the inspection, while those who did would typically find residence in New York or New Jersey.