Ellis Island to reopen one year after Hurricane Sandy

Ellis IslandEllis Island Immigration Museum will reopen to the public on Monday, October 28 for the first time since Hurricane Sandy submerged the island a year ago.

Visitors will once again walk the halls of the immigration station where 12 million people began life in America. Open areas on the first and second floors include the Great Hall, where immigrants were inspected, and Journeys: The Peopling of America 1550-1890. This first-floor exhibit, developed with the support of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, tells the story of American immigration prior to Ellis Island's years of operation. Visitors can pick up a free audio tour, join a ranger program and watch an introductory film. Outside, visitors can stroll to the popular American Immigrant Wall of Honor and take in fabulous views of Manhattan.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum will remain a work in progress at least through the spring. Repairs to the water and sewage systems have already taken place. An entirely new electrical system will be installed along with a new air conditioning system for climate control of the park's million documents and artifacts. Elevator access to the Great Hall on the second floor is not yet available, but should be restored by early next year. Because of the storm, most of the museum collection is currently stored in a climate-controlled facility in Maryland. A temporary ventilation system will be replaced by permanent equipment later this year.

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York Harbor on October 29, 2012, Ellis Island was completely covered by water. The storm surge destroyed electrical, communications, heating and cooling systems. After the Statue of Liberty reopened on July 4, the park shifted its efforts from repairs at Liberty Island to planning the more complex task of reopening an historic structure that preserves a delicate museum collection.