One of the highlights of PJ’s and my trip to NYC last week was our visit to Ellis Island. We took the subway down to Battery Park and then caught the ferry over to Ellis Island.

On the way over, the ferry docked at Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands. If we had wanted to, we could have gotten off the boat, looked around the Island, and then caught the next ferry over to Ellis Island. But we decided to skip the Statue of Liberty and just head on over to Ellis Island.

Since going to Niagara Falls this past summer, I’ve discovered by fondness for ferry and ferry-sized boat travel. The ride around the Statue of Liberty was particularly fun, since the weather was nice and the trip really gives you a pretty close view of the statue.

This is just one of a couple dozen pictures I snapped of the Statue from various angles. This one is my favorite, though, because it gets everything into one picture — the statue, the little people in the foreground, and the beautiful, blue sky.

PJ visited NYC in 1987. Visitors could still go up into the statue’s head/crown back then. You can’t anymore, so we figured it wasn’t really worth a visit. I didn’t realize that there’s also an exhibit about the statue in the base. Maybe that would have lured me into visiting.

But instead, we stayed on the ferry and rode over to Ellis Island, which is, of course, where more than a hundred million immigrants were processed as they entered the United States between 1892 and the 1920s. Overall, the information presented in the museum today is interesting and educational. This was the first of our activities in NYC this time; it was a great way to start the trip, especially since we went to the Tenement Museum the next day.

When you arrive on the island today, you start at the entrance way that immigrants were also herded through. It’s a beautiful building.Here’s my picture of the entrance.

The audio-tour for Ellis Island is excellent. I definitely recommend that visitors get it. The audio allows you to get a lot more information about the rooms, buildings, and exhibits. It also allow you to pause it and linger in a room if you want to.

After you get situated and start on the tour proper, you go upstairs to the registry room in the Great Hall, which is where immigrants were actually processed. Initially, they received health inspections. If they passed those, they moved on to legal processing. Here’s what the Great Hall looks like today:

The audio tour gives you a sense of how crowded and busy this room once was, but it’s difficult to really visualize it. So, the museum provides a good visual too:. I snapped a picture of it:

There are lots of other exhibits in the museum that detail every aspect of immigrants’ experiences while at Ellis Island. Some immigrants were forced to stay here until they were healthier or could provide proper documentation. Only a very small portion were sent back to their nations of origin. All of the exhibits are interesting; I wish I had time to blog about it all. Instead, I’ll just recommend visiting the museum in person.

A walk around the grounds is also rewarding. Here’s a picture I took of the Manhattan side of the main building. There’s also a lovely view of Manhattan from this green space.

I highly recommend a visit to Ellis Island. We spent a good three hours there and really enjoyed it. I could see easily spending a day here and at the Statue of Liberty, especially when the weather’s nice. It’s a great, educational experience.