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68 years ago on November 12th, 1954
Ellis Island is closed after years of serving as a detention center after both World Wars
This would end the use of Ellis Island as any official immigration location, and the island was closed and declared as excess federal property. It wouldn't be until 36 years later in 1990 that the island would be opened to the public after an extensive, privately-funded restoration.
Ellis Island, which used to simply screen and document anyone interested in living in America, had begun to decline as early as 1921, when laws at the national level sough to limit the number of immigrants and instituted a quota system attempting to maintain the current ethnic composition of Americans. As American embassies were established overseas, the screening of potential immigrants was no longer centralized at ports of entry, and the two World Wars had a massive impact on the American immigration system, and the island was more often used as a detention center for those awaiting deportation. When the island closed in 1954, it had processed around 12 million new Americans. By 1964, the island had fallen into disrepair, with only one security guard and a Doberman pinscher dog named Topper found roaming the island.
The island has now been restored to its former glory, and houses a National Museum of Immigration and art exhibits, but the plan wasn't always to restore the island. After being declared excess property, the government looked to sell the island, and one of the proposals involved a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed futuristic city that would house 7,500 residents and a 500-room hotel in curved, space-station-like structures sitting on a circular terrace floating atop the original land of the island that would be supported like a suspension bridge, with large cables stretching out from the central towers. This self-contained city design was one of many redevelopment ideas rejected by the government, and the island was instead refurbished and opened to the public as a national park.
More events from November 12th in New York History
21 years ago on November 12th, 2001
8 years ago on November 12th, 2014
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