Ellis Island Opening Date Still in Limbo

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
July 4, 2013 5:26 pm Last Updated: July 4, 2013 5:26 pm

NEW YORK—With Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty back in business beginning on July 4, all eyes are on Ellis Island to see when it will be fully operational.

“Now that we have Liberty (Island) done, the focus is on getting Ellis ready,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Ellis Island, which was the Gateway to America for immigrants in the late 1800’s through early 1900’s, suffered significant flooding when Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29, 2012. The entire 27.5-acre site, which sits just off the tip of Manhattan in the New York Harbor, was entirely engulfed in water.

All of the utilities and security systems were destroyed, but more importantly the island lost the HVAC system, a critical component to keeping all of the artifacts preserved.

The Museum Emergency Response Team was dispatched and the priceless archives and museum collections were moved to a climate controlled facility in Maryland. 

Peter Wong, a Park Ranger with the National Parks Service, helped pack up some of the artifacts and ship them to Maryland. “It was really powerful to see and touch—with gloves of course—some of the tapestries and some of the things belonging to the immigrants,” Wong said. 

The items will be moved back once the new HVAC system is fully operational at Ellis Island.

“We are aiming for this fall,” Jarvis said. “We should know by September when we can give you a strong date.”

Jarvis said Ellis may open for special tours over the summer, but could not guarantee that.