Did You Know?
- More than 30 languages were spoken at Ellis Island Learn more
- Until World War I, passports and visas weren't required Learn more
After the medical and legal inspections, the immigrants arrived at the top of another staircase at the other end of the Great Hall. This staircase had three aisles. Immigrants who were being detained were often brought down the center aisle. People who were traveling west or south walked down the right side of the staircase. Those going to New York City or to the north walked down the left side.
At the bottom of the stairs was a post office, a ticketing office for the railways, and social workers to help the immigrants who needed assistance. There was also an office to exchange money from their home country for U.S. dollars. No matter where they were going after Ellis Island, immigrants needed money. Exchange rates for currencies around the world were posted each day on the blackboard.
Immigrants could purchase railway tickets to their final destinations at a ticketing office.
Immigrants descend from the Great Hall by climbing down the Staircase of Separation.
Immigrants exchange their money for U.S. Dollars and purchase train tickets.
Photo: The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc./National Park Service
The Oral History of Manny Steen From Ireland
Beginning in 1909, you had to have at least $20 to enter America. Steen explains how some immigrants had to scrounge for the money to be sure they could enter the country.