The Other Side of Ellis Island

Last month I had the rare opportunity to join a small group of hard-hatted photographers spending the day shooting in the unrestored Immigrant Hospital on Ellis Island.

The hospital opened in 1902, serving as a detention facility for immigrants who were ill and therefore considered unfit to enter the United States.  After the hospital was closed in 1930 the buildings served as offices for the FBI, a detention facility for WWII prisoners of war, and finally a Coast Guard station.  The Coast Guard declared the buildings to be "excess government property" and they were abandoned in 1954.  However, recent fundraising efforts have allowed some of the buildings to be stabilized against further damage and decay, and parts of the hospital were opened to the public for hard hat tours in 2014.

Our day-long photographic tour, which involved access to parts of Ellis Island hospital complex that are still not open to the public, was arranged by photographers Tony Sweet and Mark Menditto in cooperation with Save Ellis Island and the National Park Service to raise funds for additional restoration work.

Here are some of the first batch of images from that day.

 The Statue of Liberty, visible from a hospital room

The Statue of Liberty, visible from a hospital room

 Hospital corridor

Hospital corridor

The hospital employed advanced methods in public health medicine, such as giant autoclaves used to sterilize mattresses.

 Mattress autoclave

Mattress autoclave

For more than 3500 immigrants the journey to a new life ended on Ellis Island.  The hospital's autopsy theater was a teaching facility that drew medical students and observers from hospitals across the United States.

 Autopsy theater

Autopsy theater

 Cadaver refrigerator in the autopsy theater

Cadaver refrigerator in the autopsy theater