Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey on June 29, 1986 · Page 210
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Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey · Page 210

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Asbury Park, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 29, 1986
Page:
Page 210
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10 Asbury Park PressSunday, June 29, 1986 LITY MEHMNF Ellis Island to be 'monument to common man By ERUNDA VILLAMOR Press Staff Writer Almost a century ago, millions of weary newcomers from the Old World came to the brick and iron building on Ellis Island, deposited their meager worldly possessions on the ground floor and trudged up the Great Hall, where they were "processed" for admission into the New World. ; It is estimated that almost half of all living Americans can trace their beginnings to that motley tide of humanity that brought the seeds of vitality to this country. '. Ironically, while the immigrants prospered and their couiury grew in - greatness, the soil on which they first set foot withered under government neglect. The "Plymouth Rock" of modern-day America, abandoned in 1954 and declared a surplus government property, fell victim to vandals and the elements. Today, however, massive restoration work to the tune of $260 million by the National Park Service is under way to transform the desolate island, at least the northern part, into a vibfant nioauiiiciil to the cuuiiuon iiiuii, what a Park Scrvnc spokesman called the "steerage -class imiiiigimit." being restored is the Main Building a I-rench Renaissance red brick and steel structure built between 1898 and 1900. It will be turned into a $100 million immigration museum, one of the largest historic structures in the national park system, according to Michael Adlerstein, project manager for the icivice's Statue of Liberty this Island ictoration program. Visituis to the museum will be able to tiuce the footsteps of some 16 million future Americans who went thiough bllis Island, from the time they left their boats to the time they left the island to begin their new lives. Through exhibits and video dis- 1 plays, they will be able to see the processing of the newcomers in the Great Hall of the Main Building. Ihey will follow the would-be immigrants to the burgage loom, up the giant staircase Mid io the Registry Room on the sec Oiid Iluoi where the major processing look place the iniciiogation room whc.c the aliens uii&weied questions on their legal and medical status, through the money-exchange room, and the railroad ticket office. The third floor of the Main Building is being refurbished to house a iibra.y and reading room, and an oral .Hii jiy center where visitors can listen recorded interviews and remi-i.ivciiees by immigrants. Each floor will have an auditorium. On the first and second floors will be fully equipped movie theaters which will feature films describing how the immigrants endured their journeys and what Ellis Island looked like during the immigration era. The ground floor will house a res-..-iu.ii, bookstoic and souvenir stores, ifuoniulion, ticket ottices and rcs- Aceoiding to Adleraiein, attention wul be given to restoring the buildings to the smallest details. The copper domes above the four coiners of the Registry Room roof are being replaced. The only concessions to modernity will be energy-efficient windows which will simulate the original ones in appearance. Internal drainage will replace rain gutters. , David Mollilt, the National Park aei .ice superintendent of the Statue of Libciiyhllis Island Monument, said the lciiovation of the north side should oe completed in 1988. The Park Service hai until 1992, the park's centennial, to revitalize the Island. ; Although the 33 buildings were vandalized or damaged by water, "we weie able to salvage and store a significant number of artifacts," said Moffitt. While the north side reverberates with the din of iccofiiiruclion, the iioijc ova the ioulhcrn portion of the island has remained pretty much verbal. Debate iagcs as to what to do with the hospital complex containing 27 buildings which arc filled with debris and whose ceilings and walls are collapsing. Several plans have been propounded and are being considered by the Stale of LibertyEllis Island Commission, the citizens panel that advises the federal government on the restoration ot the national monuments. 1 he controversy over Ellis Island )Ulli erupted earlier this year when loi ffici chairman Lee laccoca contended he was dismissed from the advisory panel because he said the Park service's idea of a hotel conference center would commercialize the landmark. ' laccoca had proposed an "ethnic Williamsburg," a scries of booths featuring the cultures of the different eth-i',ic groups that first came to this country. The Park Service was not wild about what has been derisively called "laccocaland," saying construction of the booths would not meet the guidelines that preclude anything that jmacks of an amusement park, any rjiodification to the original facades of the structures and the construction of new building that can be seen from the ferry slip. Although no decision has been made on the hospital and its ward Suitings, federal park officials said ihcir goal is to preserve 100 percent of the original stiuclures. They strongly favor an international conference ccr.ler, which would include a 250-rooni hotel to provide meeting rooms and lodge conference participants. ROOF 1 Third floor east and yZfi J I west wings 'roof THIRD FLOOR lT kC lO Day Detention' QSCT Offices Dom",or8 SECOND FLOOR ds' 1 Special Inquiry I jhws. 4SEh cTs,n. Examinations 4 sJ-X. 'C s3 Board Rooms 25l TrK X 7: Deporting kjrCO'0 ... 1 RailroadsT syr Watting Rooms Ticket AU FIRST FLOOR Medical Line EaminatiorvNYHl ELLIS ISLAND Ellis Island has gone through many changes since it first opened its doors in 1892, but its golden era lasted until 1924, when the immigration Quota Law stemmed the tide of immigration to America's shores. The graphic at left details how ncpaiul newcomers saw the main building during those 32 years. Iflj In groups of 50, immigrants entered MB! the tront ol the Main Building and immediately weie watched by medical inspectors as they walked up the Great Stair. Those observed having physical difficulties were designated with coded chalk marks on their backs. At the top of the stair, all immigrants were inspected physically and mentally. Four out ol five passed and entered the Registry Room Those who failed weie taken to the Ellis Island Hospital for treatment or held for deportation. Qln the second llooi Hegistry Room, the center of activity at Ellis Island, immigrants waited while interpreters and examiners checked off names, listed marital status, country of origin, final destination and the amount of money carried by each immigiant. Twenty-five dollars were sufficient funds to enter the country. OFour out of five immigrants passed this step arid proceeded downstairs to the Railroad Ticket Office to buy passage to their final destination, exchange currency, and wait for the ferry to America. Immigrants not passing examinations in the Registry Room were detained in dormitories and given coded badges indicating their status. Some immigrants awaited the arrival of money or relatives. Others had to appear before legal reviews. Source Beyer Blinder beire Nutter finegola A Alenandet Architects Report ot the Commissionei General ot Immigration and Liberty 1 he Maine and the American Dream by Leslie Alien CHRONOLOGY: 1892 Ellis Island opened 1897 Original structure burned down " 1900 Current structure opened 1924 Immigration Quota Law reduced Ellis Island to illegal alien detention and deportation center 1934 Ellis Island expanded to current size 1939-45 Coast Guard recruit lodging and training center 1941 FBI enemy alien detention center and hospital used tor returning wounded soldiers 1946 Coast Guard decommissioned their post 1954 Ellis Island closed and declared surplus government property XfsSD ) CENTRAL JERSEY :( Salutes IViISS As the Grand Lady reaches her 100th Birthday, let us all join in celebration. For 100 years, she has been a beacwii of freedom. Let us not take our freedom for granted. !25-30s50 I WE WILL MOT oc iiMr-T.T"- I W LL MATCH OR BEAT ANY WRITTEN QUOTATION FOR THE SAME ITFMf J-HUM ANYN.J. 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