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Ellis Island

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noun
  1. an island in upper New York Bay: a former U.S. immigrant examination station.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Word Origin and History for ellis island

Ellis Island

sandy island in mouth of Hudson River, said to have been called "Gull Island" by local Indians and "Oyster Island" by the Dutch, renamed "Gull Island" after the British took over, then "Gibbet Island" because pirates were hanged there. Sold to Samuel Ellis in 1785, who made it a picnic spot and gave it his name. Sold by his heirs in 1808 to New York State and acquired that year by the U.S. War Department for coastal defenses. Vacant after the American Civil War until the government opened an immigration station there in 1892 to replace Castle Island.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ellis island in Culture

Ellis Island

An island in the harbor of New York City. The chief immigration station of the United States was on Ellis Island from 1892 to 1943, a time when millions of people, especially from Europe, came to the United States.

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Note

Ellis Island lies near the Statue of Liberty, which made an impressive sight for people approaching the United States for the first time.

Note

1990 marked the opening of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Ellis Island

Island in the harbor of New York City, southwest of Manhattan.

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Note

From 1892 to 1954, it served as the prime immigration station of the country. Some twelve million immigrants passed through it during this time.

Note

Part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.