Posts Tagged ‘immigrants in New York City’

“Emigrant Landing” at Ellis Island

December 23, 2010

Is the E on emigrant a typo, or is this really the last stop for Americans seeking to relocate to other countries?

Sometimes the manufacturers of these vintage postcards shaved off details, but the building looks significantly smaller and less ornate than the main immigrant landing station on Ellis Island.

Ellis Island’s joyful “kissing post”

March 31, 2010

Getting through Ellis Island after arriving in America took some time.

After disembarking and taking a ferry to the main building, every immigrant went through the same process.

They would leave their belongings in a baggage room, undergo a medical exam, and be interviewed by agents to make sure they were legally able to come to the U.S.

The routine took hours, days, or weeks, and not everyone was given the go-ahead to enter New York City.

But if they did, America’s newest arrivals were free to move on.

They went to a money-exchange area, collected their bags, and waited at the foot of the stairs of the Great Hall to reunite with family already in New York.

One pillar in the room was the location of so many emotional family reunions, it became known as the kissing post. It’s marked with a plaque today.

Christmas at a Village settlement house

December 18, 2009

That’s quite a festive Christmas tree these Greenwich Village kids are posing in front of. They’re celebrating the holiday at the Greenwich Settlement House, which still stands on Barrow Street today. 

The photo, from the New York Public Library, is undated. Looks like it’s from the early 1900s, when settlement houses popped up in lots of poor New York neighborhoods.

They were funded by wealthy residents to help “settle” new immigrants by providing health care, job training, and art classes.

They taught their little charges well. A New York Times article from December 1914 reports that the kids from the Greenwich Settlement House would be singing carols in hospitals on Christmas Day:

“In addition, the children are rehearsing a play to be produced at the settlement house on Tuesday,” the article states. “After the play, each little girl and boy will receive a big bag of candy and an orange. Many of the children have decided to give their candy to the sick folk for whom they are to sing.”

A snapshot of tenement life

November 18, 2009

An unknown photographer captured this New York mother and her two babies in an old-law tenement apartment in 1916. 

Like most flats in old-law tenements (so named because they predate “new” turn-of-the-century laws mandating better living conditions per apartment), it’s dark, squalid, and unventilated.

That window probably looks out onto a narrow courtyard, if not just another room in the same apartment.