Ellis Island (known by its English name) is a small island in the port of New York, in the upper bay next to New Jersey. Ellis has had many names as diverse functions throughout its history. At first the local Indian tribes referred to it as “Kioshk” or “Gull Island.” During the stage of colonization, it became known as the “Oyster Island” (“Ostery Island”). His current name goes back to the decade of 1770, when Samuel Ellis became its owner. In 1808 the Federal Government bought the Ellis Island, mainly destined for military use during this period and especially during the War of 1812 against the British, when it was converted into a fort. Later, under the provision of President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis became the principal office of the city. Between 1892 and 1954 approximately 12 million passengers who arrived in the United States through the port of New York, were inspected, both legally and medically there. Arrivals were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and the amount of money carried. Those with visible health problems or diseases were sent home or held in the island’s hospital facilities for long periods of time. More than three thousand would-be immigrants died on Ellis Island while being held in the hospital facilities. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered “likely to become a public charge.” About two percent were denied admission to the U.S. and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as having a chronic contagious disease, criminal background, or insanity. Ellis Island was sometimes known as “The Island of Tears” or “Heartbreak Island” because of those 2% who were not admitted after the long transatlantic voyage.
Nowadays, Ellis remains the property of the federal states of New York and New Jersey, although its use is limited to functions solely for tourists.