More Pix of the Haunted Halls

Another group of photos of the south half of Ellis Island.

I admit that this is personal for me. All four of my grandparents passed through the Ellis Island immigration station and the few times they mentioned it in my presence were in terms of the mind-numbing fear of (a) being sent back or (b) being found to be ill. Keeping in mind that three of them did not speak English at the time and the clerks there were famously bad with languages, it may well have been the worst day of their lives.

I worked on the rehab of the Main Building in the early 90s and got a trip to see the museum before it opened to the public. The dissonance between the high-def, large-format pictures of people somewhere on the spectrum between unhappy andĀ terrified, and the adjacent happy-speak about new opportunities in a new land gave me a thumping headache. I’ve been told the text was adjusted a few years later.

Maybe a TB memorial

Most of Ellis Island is landfill. The island now has a squared-off C shape, with the north arm of the C being where the main immigration hall is, the crotch of the C being the ferry slip, and the south half being no-mans-land. The south half is where problematic immigrants were stored, so most of it is a hospital where any number of people died in sight of their goal.

I’ve been there. It’s a combination of historic and depressing that leaves me at a loss for what should be done there…if, in fact, anything should be done there.