Ellis Island symbol of immigration, but people came to other ports, too
Published: July 6, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ellis Island stands as a symbol of the waves of immigrants who have come to the United States, but there also were other ports of entry for new arrivals, according to a panel of speakers in Washington. As part of a National Archives exhibit about immigration, experts came together June 20 to talk about Ellis Island and the immigrant experience. The panel explored the myths surrounding Ellis Island and the real experiences of the people who passed -- or were thought to have passed -- through the iconic immigrant facility in New York Harbor. "About 700,000 immigrants who arrived in New York were not processed in Ellis Island," said genealogist John Philip Colletta. Colletta pointed out several instances when Ellis Island was not used, citing the fire that burned down the original Ellis Island building, exceptions made for first-class passengers and automatic citizenship for family members of naturalized immigrants. "If your relatives arrived (in New York) between June 1897 and 1900, they did not go through Ellis Island," he said. During that period, the Barge Office in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan processed new immigrants. Before Ellis Island, those coming to New York entered through Castle Gardens in lower Manhattan. Other U.S. ports of entry included Buffalo, N.Y., Baltimore and Philadelphia on the East Coast and Angel Island on the West Coast. Addressing the popular idea that some immigrants' names were changed upon arrival, Colletta said that "the names were already in the passenger list."
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