Eliis Island was formerly known as Little Oyster Island; its current name commemorates Samuel Ellis, who owned the island in the late eighteenth century. The Federal Immigration Station on the island opened on 1 January 1892 and closed on 12 November 1954. In the intervening period, 12 million immigrants passed through the island, the peak year being 1907 when 1,004,756 immigrants arrived there.
One of the many Liberal distortions of history is that Ellis Island was a harsh and forbidding place, designed to cow new arrivals and weed out the vulnerable for repatriation. In fact, of the 12 millions who arrived at the island, just 2% were refused entry (undesirable categories included prostitutes, anarchists, and those suffering from communicable diseases). The centre was "a beautiful, richly decorated complex with first-class health facilities, a roof garden with inspiring views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and good food for the relative few who were subjected to detention", and the staff "performed their duties with efficiency, dispatch and not a little compassion."
Today, Ellis Island is a National Monument run by the United States National Park Service.
- Bill Bryson, Made in America (London 1994) pp164-165