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New York, NY Ellis Island Fire, Jun 1897

The new immigration depot at Ellis Island, New York Harbor, was opened on New Year's Day, 1891. The structure was of gigantic proportions. It was built at a cost of $500,000. An idea of the building's immense size may be gained from the fact that more than four million feet of lumber were used in its construction. The huge building covered the greater part of the island, the are of which was something less than five acres, but this was increased to about eight by driving spiles about the water front and filling the vacant spaces with earth. The building was three stories in height, with a tower at each corner. The ground and upper floors measured each 404 by 154 feet. The first floor was devoted to railroad and baggage transfers and private offices. On the second floor the registrations and examinations were conducted. Among the general features of the building was a gallery which extended completely around this floor. From this the immigrants could be inspected by the public or those interested in them without coming into actual contact with them. There were rooms for paupers, another for lunatics, another for those suspected of being contract laborers, another for women and children, and so on. The telegraph and money exchange offices, postal stations, information bureau, railroad and steamship officers were all arranged so as to give the new-comers the least possible inconvenience. Sleeping rooms were provided on the floor above.

The County Record
June 24, 1897
page 7

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