Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 23

Ellis Island - History, Immigration, Jurisdiction, Inspection Symbols, Trivia, Noted Ellis Island immigrants

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A small island (27·5 acres) in New York Bay, USA; named after New Jersey merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned it in the 18th-c. It served as the main immigration centre to the USA from 1892 to 1943, with c.2000 immigrants a day arriving there in the peak years of the early 20th-c. It was sometimes called ‘the isle of tears’, as not all would-be immigrants were permitted to enter, and families were often separated. It became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. Sovereignty of the island changed from New York to New Jersey following a US Supreme Court decision in 1998.

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