2.Ellis Island- *why* *was* *it* *called* *the* *golden* *door*?
Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a federal immigration station, a purpose it served for more than 60 years (it closed in 1954).Millions of newly arrived immigrants passed through the station during that time--in fact, it has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of theirancestors to Ellis Island.
When Ellis Island opened, a great change was taking place in immigration to the United States. As arrivals from northern and western Europe--Germany, Ireland, Britain and theScandinavian countries--slowed, more and more immigrants poured in from southern and eastern Europe. Among this new generation were Jews escaping from political and economic oppression in czaristRussia and eastern Europe (some 484,000 arrived in 1910 alone) and Italians escaping poverty in their country. There were also Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Serbs, Slovaks and Greeks, along with non-Europeansfrom Syria, Turkey and Armenia. The reasons they left their homes in the Old World included war, drought, famine and religious persecution, and all had hopes for greater opportunity in the New World.After an arduous sea voyage, many passengers described their first glimpse of New York Harbor--including the Statue of Liberty--as a singularly exhilarating experience. Those with first- orsecond-class tickets (mostly non-immigrants) were processed onboard their ships and allowed to go directly ashore in New York or New Jersey, while third-class or steerage passengers lugged their possessionsonto barges that would take them to Ellis Island. Immigrants were tagged with information from the ship's registry and passed through long lines for medical and legal inspections to determine if theywere fit for entry into the United States. From 1900 to 1914--the peak years of Ellis Island's operation--some 5,000 to 10,000 people passed through the immigration station every day. Approximately...
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