Located on the South side of Ellis Island, the once functional 750 bed hospital sits in ruins years after closing its doors. The hospital complex has been untouched by renovations and still holds the history of the hospital complex in it’s walls. Walking throughout the building you will see the decaying, crumbling remains of the buildings that once housed unfit immigrants before they were allowed to enter the United States or deported back to their country.
The Ellis Island Hospital in famous for being the first public health hospital in the United States. In it’s course from 1902 to 1930 it saw over a million immigrants seeking entry into the country. The hospital was constructed on two man-made islands made from the land excavated for the development of the Lexington Avenue subway line. The islands are separated by ferry basins, because in those days it was believed germs could not spread over bodies of water.
The first island contained the general hospital that included multiple wards: four operating rooms, a pediatric ward, maternity ward, women’s ward, and psychiatric ward. This side of the island also included the laundry room for the hospital.
The second island contained the infectious disease ward, separated into different wards for different diseases and connected by long hallways. Doctors and nurses could examine their patients through small standing rooms, which allowed them to avoid actually entering the ward.
Today you can take a tour through the Ellis Island Hospital Complex through the National Park Service. Tickets are $66.25 each for adults and $61 for seniors. All money raised is put back into conserving the buildings in the hospital complex. The tour is a 90 minute walking tour. Visitors are required to wear a hard hat and people under the age of 13 are not permitted. Access to the Statue of Liberty and the public sections of Ellis Island is also included in the price.
The Ellis Island tour begins in the Ferry House building where immigrants would have purchased tickets to wherever their destination inside the United States was before continuing on to the laundry room and contagious disease wards. Included in the contagious disease wards is the pharmacists home, doctors home, morgue, and autopsy room.
The last stop in the tour took us into the doctor’s home, where the doctor and his family would have lived while treating patients in the Ellis Island Hospital.
The history of the Ellis Island Hospital is both grim and hopeful. Due to illness, the hospital was the last place many spouses, siblings, and other family members may have seen each other as many were deported due to illness. Families were split apart as children were either not allowed to enter and deported with a family member or were allowed to enter but their parents were not. For many, the hospital was a place of doom. However, to equally as many the hospital was a place of new hope and a new life. After treatment many immigrants were allowed in to the country. 350 babies were also born in the general hospital’s maternity ward on Ellis Island.