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  • Ellis IslandEllis Island Jersey City, New Jersey
    Ellis Island in New York Harbor is one of the most famous and look for place in this nation, especially for the millions of immigrants that came to this country for freedom and the land of dreams. It would be the busiest immigration inspection station in the nation from 1892 to 1954, with the smaller island of Fort Gibson being used originally, and then later a naval magazine. The island's land mass would be increased with landfill from 1892 until 1934; with the structures getting much needed restoration in 1990 to house the museum of immigration that would be administered by the National Park Service as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In a 1998 United States Supreme Court decision, the majority of the island would be part of New Jersey; although it is located in the Upper New York Bay, it is considered part of Jersey City, New Jersey, lying east of Liberty State Park and north of Liberty Island. The United States Census Bureau has announced that the island contains 32.030 acres of land, with over 83% of it coming here as landfill. The island has been owned and run by the government since 1808. The original area of the island is just 5.302 acres, with the land filled area surrounding and encompassing it. Part of the original island, 3.3 acres to be exact is considered to be part of New York City, with the other lands and surrounding waters are part of Jersey City. Access to Ellis Island is accomplished by ferry from Communipaw Terminal in Liberty State Park or Battery Park, that sits on the southern tip of Manhattan. This ferry also takes you to the entry to Liberty Island, where our lovely lady stands so proudly, and a bridge that was constructed to carry materials and personnel to and fro from the island during its renovation process, and is connected to Liberty State Park; however, it is not open to the public, since the ferries are free of charge. After September 11, 2001, the island would be patrolled by the United States Police Marine Patrol Unit. The federal immigration station opened on January 1, 1892, and would be used to bring in 12 million immigrants before it closed in 1954. The Immigration Act of 1924 would begin to restrict the number of immigrants that were allowed to enter the country to only displaced persons or war refugees, with more than 100 million Americans today able to trace their ancestry to the immigrants that came here before heading off to other areas in the nation. Before Ellis Island opened, the city of New York would process more than 8 million immigrants at the Castle Garden Immigration Depot in Lower Manhattan, that is situated just across the bay. It has been guesstimated that over 10 million immigrants would leave for various parts of the US, from the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal across a narrow strait. The other immigrants would use one of the other terminals that were located along the North River (Hudson River) during that period. Ellis Island's biggest year would be in 1907, when it would process 1,004,756 immigrants, with the all-time high day being April 17, 1907, when more than 11, 747 immigrants came here. Louis Adamic arrived here from Slovenia in southeastern Europe, during 1913, and this writer would describe the night that he and many other immigrants would sleep on the bunks situated in a huge hall, and without a blanket, he would "shiver, sleepless, all night, listening to snores" and "dreams" in maybe a dozen or more languages. This enormous structure was so big that it could seat 1000 people at its dining room tables. The normal stay for those that were approved would be between two to five hours at the island, after arriving and being asked some 29 questions that included their names, amount of money they carried and their occupation. The immigrants that came here with visible diseases or had health problems would be sent home or else they would end up in the island's hospitals for long stays. Over 3000 people died on Ellis while being held in the hospital. Many unskilled workers would be denied because they believed that these individuals would be most "likely to become a public charge." While another 2 percent or so would be rejected entry because they had chronic contagious diseases, insanity or had criminal backgrounds. The island soon became known as the "Island of Tears" or "heartbreak island" since those 2% would not be allowed to come into the country after usually traveling a long and terrible Transatlantic trip. The old wooden post that sits outside the Registry room is named the kissing post since it was where many new arrivals would be met by their families and/or friends with much hugging, crying and naturally, kisses. Ellis Island would become a detention and deportation processing center after 1924, while during and after WWII, it would house German merchant mariners and enemy aliens, American civilians or immigrants that had been locked up for fear of spying, sabotage or any other despicable acts against this nation. Over 7000 Japanese, Germans and Italians would be held here during the war and after, until they could be sent back to their respective countries. The island contains a special history and place in our hearts and minds, since so many of our countrymen and women came here through those portals and would become part of this huge melting pot, that is still welcoming in immigrants and others that have been displaced from their country of origin. Plan on spending many hours here, perusing the archives and documents that have been housed here, along with many papers and other documents that fell into the government's hands and had nowhere else to store and preserve there for posterity.

  • Jersey City Museum
    Jersey City Museum Jersey City, New JerseyThe Jersey City Museum can be found in the Van Vorst Park area of downtown Jersey City, New Jersey and contains a very diverse collection that includes; 19th and 20th century works on paper, sculpture, paintings and material culture from the area. The museum gives significant attention to showcasing contemporary artworks, and recognizes the plethora of visual artists that make their home in the region and neighboring metropolitan area. The cream-colored brick structure that houses it was a former post office warehouse that had been constructed in 1929 and then restorated for $6.5 million, with an interior of marvelous spaces that are enhanced by a skylit lobby. Their collections include more than 20,000 works, along with classroom, galleries, offices, a gift shop and a 152 seat theater. The museum itself dates back to 1901, when it was situated on the fourth floor of the Jersey City Free Public Library on Jersey Avenue, remaining under that umbrella until 1987, when the association began efforts to create a separate facility. The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency would donate a structure in 1993, on Montgomery Street, and still strives to keep, preserve and interpret the area's cultural heritage. The museum also strives to encourage the participation of the community by offering them education programs, publications, exhibitions, research projects and other programs that have been designed to teach visual literacy, creativity, and promote art and local history, especially the interest thereof, which have become the core of the museum's philosophy. As the years have passed, and the collections grown, the museum has acquired numerous works in all mediums, and now include furniture, textiles, maps, ephermera, decorative arts, metals and industrial objects. They have also included works that were produced in the area, like the glass and ceramics collections that were produced by the American Pottery company and the Jersey Glass company. Two of the collections most significant and intriguing local artists include the marvelous landscape painter, August Will and the pictorial photographer, William Armbruster.

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  • Liberty State ParkLiberty State Park Jersey City, New Jersey
    The Liberty State Park sits along the Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and opened in 1976 to coincide with the bicentennial celebrations and run by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. The park encompasses 1212 acres with the major part of the park bordered by water on three sides, with the southern Caven Point area of the park separated from the main body of the park by the Liberty National Golf Club and can be accessed on the water's edge by the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The majority of the park's mass was created by using landfill, from the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Railroad, with both the companies now out of business, and whose lines ended in the park. On the northeastern corner of the park sits the CRRNJ terminal that is now a historic transportation structure; with the ferries to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island leaving from the dock nearby. Inside the park you'll find the Communipaw Cove, a 36 acre state nature preserve that contains one of the last remaining salt marshes that exist along the Hudson River estuary and is has a marvelous interpretive center that was designed by Michael Graves. There is a road, called Freedom Way, that runs through the center, and is a barrier between the closed area to the public and the area to the east that is open to the public with many fields, walkways and bike paths. Liberty Walkway, a crescent shaped promenade goes from the CRRNJ terminal to the waterfront along the path that passes by the Statue of Liberty overlook, and also bridges two coves along the way. The path is now part of the larger Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, and offers a bridge to Ellis Island, but is closed to the public. The southeastern end of the park has the Statue of Liberty overlook, the public administration building, picnic areas, a memorial to Black Tom explosions, a playground and the U.S. Flag Plaza and Liberation Monument. By the northwestern entry into the park, you'll notice the Liberty Science Center, which is an interactive science museum and learning center that opened in 1993 as the state's first major science museum with numerous science displays, many educational resources, the world's biggest IMAX dome theater, and the original Hoberman sphere, a silver, computer-driven engineering work of art created by Chuck Hoberman.

  • Liberty Science Center
    Liberty Science Center Jersey City, New JerseyThe Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey is the magnificent interactive science museum and learning center that is situated inside the Liberty State Park; opening in 1993 as the state's first significant science museum with outstanding science exhibits, many educational resources,, the original Hoberman sphere, a large, silver, computer-driven engineering artwork that was designed by Chuck Hoberman; and the biggest IMAX dome theater in the nation. When the museum opened, there was another excellent work of art that pertains to science, and that was Jim Gary's Twentieth Century Dinosaurs sculpture exhibit, located on the ground floor. In July 2007, the center would enjoy a 22 month, $109 million expansion and restoration project that added another 100,000 square feet to the center and brought the entire space as being available was now 300,000 square feet. Unfortunately, the added space did not increase the exhibit space, but added more room to the open space so that now there is more room for the long lines that occur here often, which is why the suggestion was put in. There is state-of-the-art surround sound along with one of the best screens in the IMAX dome, located here, along with outstanding exhibits that include the center's exhibition's and they include; Skyscraper! Achievement and Impact, which is the biggest exhibition of skyscrapers in the world with many relics from the World Trade Center, and more; Traveling Exhibit with various displays being showcased; Eat and Be Eaten that looks at the predator and prey relationship, the Wildlife challenge which is a seasonal outdoor display; Communication looks at the ways that people communicate with each other and include; body, language, sign and writing. There is also the Infection connection, I Explore, Our Hudson Home, Wonder Why and energy quest.

January 11, 2011