Ellis Island was an immigration station off the coast of New York Harbor. It opened on January 1st, 1892. Over the course of 62 years, Ellis Island was a major landmark in American history. Thirty-five buildings were built on Ellis Island, all with a special purpose. Ellis Island closed in 1954, but not after taking in 12 million immigrants. Before it was an immigration station, its previous owner, Samuel Ellis, had used it as a place to hang criminals. Convicted pirates, criminals, and mutinous sailors were hanged. People started calling Ellis Island "Gibbet Island", named after the wooden posts, or gibbets, where the bodies of the criminals were shown publicly.
Ellis Island served as a reception center for immigrants.
On Ellis Island, in 1897, a fire destroyed the main building, which was made out of victorian wood. The origin of the fire was unknown, but people thought it was caused by faulty wiring. Nobody was killed, but the fire destroyed many immigration records, dating back to the 1850's. After three years, the main building was rebuilt, though this time out of bricks. Immigrants had to go through a long, grueling process to enter the United States.
But what was the immigration process at Ellis Island?
Over 12 million immigrants came to America, through Ellis Island, with the hope to start a better life. Immigrants came to the United States because of war, unemployment, or famine. Some thought that America was peaceful, and had plenty of jobs.