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In pics: Ellis Island and its 'huddled masses'

Archive photographs show “the tired, the poor” – and the occasional imposter Russian prince – who made up the millions passing through US immigration terminal from 1892.

THIS SUMMER, THE National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the hospital complex at Ellis Island should be included in its list of endangered historic places in the US.

Ellis Island, located in New York harbour, was the first piece of land on which millions of immigrants – including many from Ireland – set foot on their journey to a new life in America. The hospital complex is yet to be restored properly and is currently sealed off to the public – it operated between the years of 1902 and 1930. (Ellis Island opened as an entry point for incoming ships ten years earlier and continued as such until 1954).

In one year alone, 1907, over one million immigrants passed through Ellis Island, carrying their history and their hopes for the future with them. The very first one to come ashore, back on January 2, 1892, was a 13-year-old Irish girl Annie Moore. She landed with her two brothers, having set sail from Cobh, Co Cork 11 days earlier on the SS Nevada. She and her younger brothers were reunited with her parents and lived in New York. A statue representing Annie now stands at Ellis Island – with a twin one standing in Cobh, where she started her journey.

These photos, archived by the Press Association, give a sense of the masses of people who passed through the station and – for most of them – eventually left it behind for a new life in the US.

In pics: Ellis Island and its 'huddled masses'
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  • Ellis Island

    The main registry building on Ellis Island is shown in this 1905 photo.
  • Ellis Island

    This is a 1924 photo of the registry room at Ellis Island in New York harbour.
  • Ellis Island

    Newly-arrived immigrants just off the ferry from Ellis Island in the early 1890s find themselves thrust into the bustling heart of New York City.
  • Ellis Island

    Hundreds of immigrants sit in the Great Hall of Ellis Island on New Year's Day, 1900, as they await processing procedures to begin for their possible entrance into the United States. (AP Photo/National Parks Service, Statue of National Monument)
  • Ellis Island

    New arrivals at the island carry their luggage on 7 June 1900. (Corbis/Polfoto/Press Association Images)
  • Ellis island

    European immigrants who have passed through the entry station at Ellis Island wait for the ferry that will transport them to New York City on 7 June 1900. (Corbis/Polfoto/Press Association Images)
  • Ellis Island

    An Italian woman and her children arrive at Ellis Island, New York, in 1905. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
  • Ellis Island

    An undated photo of a group of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. About 16 million people came through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1924. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    Group of Italian arrivals ready to be processed in Ellis Island in June 1908. (Lewis Wickes Hine/Polfoto/Press Association Images)
  • Ellis Island

    A Hungarian mother and her four children pose after their arrival in 1909 at the island. (AP Photo/National Park Service/Statue of Liberty National Monument)
  • Ellis Island

    Immigrants stand outside at Ellis Island, looking torwards Manhattan and New York Bay, while they wait to be transferred and become residents of the United States on 30 October, 1912. (Corbis/Polfoto/Press Association Images)
  • Ellis island

    Another side to the island: People who have been arrested in the federal drive against radicals are shown as they arrive at Ellis Island 7 April, 1920. Deportation hearings are held on the island to determine whether they are to stay in the United States. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    Harry Gerguson, who called himself 'Michael Romanoff' and claimed to be a relative of the former reigning leaders of Russia, escaped from Ellis Island on 6 May, 1932 where he was awaiting deportation as an "undesirable alien". Announcement of the escape was made by Island officials. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    This is the same Harry Gerguson, in 1933, posing for the cameras. He managed to turn up again in the US and went on to have a career as an actor and restaurateur. It turns out he was born in Lithuania. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    A group of the men picked up in New York hotels, clubs and restaurants by immigration inspectors and city detectives on 9 May, 1941 in a round-up directed at aliens accused of overstaying their leaves in the US, await their transfer from a police station to Ellis Island. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    In a dark chapter of American history, this picture shows Japanese nationals being taken on board a coast guard patrol boat by detectives on 8 December, 1941 for detention on Ellis Island as part of the nationwide round-up of Japanese nationals during WWII. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    An MP stands among Japanese families en route to Ellis Island on a harbour boat after they arrived in New York, 11 August, 1945, on the SS Santa Rosa from Europe. They were slated for internment as 'enemy aliens'. (AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman)
  • Ellis Island

    Three Finnish children write America on the chalk board in a class held for children of immigrants detained at Ellis Island on 7 April, 1949. They range in ages 3 to 11 years old. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    This picture was taken in the years just before World War I an shows immigrants having lunch at Ellis Island. (AP/Press Association).
  • Ellis Island

    Having lunch on Ellis Island some 30 years later, on 12 June, 1947. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    Young detainees at Ellis Island attend classes under the direction of Jennie F. Pratt on 13 June, 1947. Pratt was a social worker from one of the many organisations that worked with the island's quarantined immigrants. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    A old hospital building on Ellis Island is shown in this 5 March, 1986 photo. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)
  • Ellis Island

    Restoring graffiti in 1989 which was made decades earlier by immigrants as they were processed through the Main Registry Building on Ellis Island. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
  • Ellis Island

    The final touches are applied outside the entrance to the Great Hall on Ellis Island before it was reopened - renovated - to the public on 7 September, 1990. (AP Photo/David Cantor)
  • Ellis Island

    The Statue of Liberty with Ellis Island in the background. (AP Photo)
  • Ellis Island

    Actress Angela Lansbury is displayed on a screen as she is honoured at the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards at the Great Hall on Ellis Island on 19 April this year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

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