I love visiting Ellis Island. I’ve been there twice now and as we board the ferry that takes us there – past the Statue of Liberty, away from the towering New York skyline -I imagine I’m on an ocean liner, catching my first glimpse of America.
At the turn of the century until the 1920s, as millions of immigrants from across the globe flocked to the United States, the area on Ellis Island where many were reunited with relatives and loved ones was gradually nicknamed “The Kissing Gate.” These reunions would make any at the airport pale in comparison I’m sure! What a beautiful sight it must have been to see people who were seeing each other again or for the first time, filled with a sense of disbelief and gratitude at their chance to reunite. We who are so accustomed to anytime, anywhere air travel would likely not be able to understand.
One man recounted as he made his way to the meeting area, anticipating reuniting with his father for the first time in many years, that he saw “an older man with a beautiful face that looked just like mine.” Instant recognition.
Below are some pictures I took. Faces from the past, many of whom would would go on to live in crowded tenement buildings, (think no indoor plumbing and multiple families living together in one tiny, two bedroom apartment), working low wage jobs in unglamorous places of employment. Yet they had seen coming to America as worth the blood, sweat and tears and their often grueling lives paved better futures for many of us!