Castle Gardens
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Castle Gardens

During the late 1800s, New York was the largest port of entry for immigrants arriving to the United States. In 1855, the state of New York opened Castle Garden, at the tip of Manhattan, where officials helped immigrants change money, buy railroad tickets, and find a place to stay. Critics claimed that the depot brought down property values and that the immigrants "smelled bad." On January 1, 1892, after immigration services were taken over by the federal government, a new and larger immigration station was opened on Ellis Island in New York harbor. Here, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, immigrants underwent medical examinations and answered questions about their work, money situations, and destinations. Later a literacy test was also administered. At its peak, more than 5000 people a day were processed at Ellis Island. The center was officially closed in 1954. The photos below show the Castle Garden and Ellis Island immigrant processing centers. How do you think the immigrants might have felt as they took their first steps on American soil into one of these facilities? Why do you think the two processing centers were located where they were?

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old Castle Gardens

Battery and Old Castle Gardens, New York

Ellis Island

Ellis Island, New York

inspection room

Inspection Room, Ellis Island

Ellis Island and harbor

Ellis Island and Harbor

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