From the Pale to the Golden Land
Castle Garden: Port of Immigration

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Castle Garden (Aquarium) and Battery Park

New York, New York

Prior to 1855, people disembarking from ships in New York did not have to go through any inspection process. They could go directly to the wharfs without even being screened for contagious diseases. From 1855 to 1890, immigrants arriving at the port of New York landed in what was called "Castle Garden," (a former opera house) which was located at the southern tip of Manhattan. At that time, the federal government had a contract with the State of New York to inspect and process all those who wanted to immigrate. In 1890, with a new wave of immigration, the federal government decided that it wanted to take control of this process, and could thus screen out all of the undesirable arrivals, e.g. those who were sick or so poor that they would be a burden on the nation. The state wouldn’t let the federal government use Castle Garden, so a new center was needed. Between 1890 and 1892, while a new building was being constructed, people were screened at the Old Barge House near the U.S. Customs Office at the southeast end of Manhattan. Then, in 1892, Ellis Island was ready.

Before we talk about Ellis Island, let's first learn more about the history of Castle Garden.  next ►►

Also see the Museum's exhibition "Castle Garden: The First Entry Point to America."

--photo courtesy of the  New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Library / Picture Collection.





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