Managed by the National Park Service, the monument pays tribute to the more than 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. Thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1998, approximately 80% of Ellis Island now belongs to New Jersey rather than New York.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which opened in 1990, is housed in the island's immigration station. In addition to seeing the building itself, you can hear oral-history interviews and see a film and exhibits of items the immigrants brought to the U.S. Be sure to see the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, the longest wall of names in the world, commemorating more than 600,000 immigrants. A computer inside allows visitors to see if their last name appears anywhere on the wall.
To visit the monument, you can take a ferry from Liberty State Park on the Jersey side or from Battery Park, on the southern end of Manhattan (both stop at the Statue of Liberty, which is on a nearby island, as well as at Ellis Island). Tight security measures are in place: Be prepared to be screened, and don't take any sizable bags. You can get to Ellis Island by taking Exit 14B from the New Jersey Turnpike and following signs to Liberty State Park and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferry. From the Manhattan side, take the Circle Line's Statue of Liberty ferry, which departs from Battery Park in downtown Manhattan.
In addition to being the starting point for ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Liberty State Park (on the waterfront in Jersey City) is home to the Liberty Science Center. Focusing on the three themes of invention, environment and health, the center has excellent interactive exhibits that kids love. If time allows, catch a show on the big screen at the center's Kodak Omni Theatre—it has one of the country's largest IMAX domes. And don't miss the spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty from the observation deck of the science center's 170-ft/50-m tower. Liberty State Park also plays host to a series of concerts during summer months. Jersey City itself offers a tantalizing array of ethnic restaurants and shops. You'll find authentic Mexican, Cuban, Middle Eastern, Polish, German, Indian and Italian food. Ellis Island is 8 mi/12 km east of Newark.
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