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RE: [S-R] Re: Off-Topic - Ellis Island Trip

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  • Bill Tarkulich
    No, I am not aware. I know that a lot has happened since they renovated it. I remember going back a year or two ago and many of the signs have changed. Do
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 1, 1941
      No, I am not aware. I know that a lot has happened since they "renovated"
      it. I remember going back a year or two ago and many of the signs have
      Do a google search on "Central Railway of New Jersey" you'll probably find
      some things.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf Of maruszin
      Sent: Sunday, January 01, 2006 5:59 PM
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [S-R] Re: Off-Topic - Ellis Island Trip

      Hi Bill
      This was a nice description of your visit to Ellis Island. Are you
      aware of a of a site that shows the original signs with destinations
      for the trains leaving the train station at Liberty Park.
      Mike Maristch
      --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Tarkulich"
      <bill.tarkulich@i...> wrote:
      > Here is a re-run of a report I wrote five years ago about my trip
      to Ellis
      > Island, 6 months prior to my first trip to Slovakia and 11 months
      > 9/11 changed many things.
      > Bill
      > My Visit To Ellis Island
      > Part I – Wall of Honor, The Journey, First Impressions
      > Bill Tarkulich
      > I visited Ellis Island (EI) over the Christmas, 2000 Holiday. Here
      is my
      > first installment on my views and observations. Enjoy.
      > Wall of Honor
      > Regarding the wall. It's a steel, silver-colored wall, shaped like
      > letter "C"s facing each other, placed outside adjacent to the main
      > It is engraved on both sides and is about 5' tall. A third wall,
      which is
      > straight, has names engraved on one side only (more to come). The
      only names
      > listed are those that donors have paid for. Remember, this is a
      fund raising
      > tool. It's NOT the same as the immigrant transcription project.
      They raised
      > $150 million in PRIVATE funds through various means to restore the
      > building. A very impressive sum of money.
      > Each name costs $100 each to have engraved. A husband and wife's
      names costs
      > $200. In my opinion it's worth it. www.wallofhonor.com explains it
      > including how many names are engraved. The wall is silver in
      color. Each
      > name is about 1/2" in height. It's right outside the main
      building, on the
      > right hand side when facing the main entrance. It's one thing to
      say 20
      > million people passed thru, but to see several hundred thousand
      names is
      > quite impressive. An ordinary camera wouldn't be able to capture
      one name,
      > unless it has a close-up/macro feature. You might be better off
      doing a
      > rubbing yourself.
      > To find the wall names and what panel they are located on, you go
      to a kiosk
      > of about a dozen computer terminals at EI. They're very popular
      and there is
      > usually a wait. For all you Internet savvy users, look at the web
      > before you go. The same database is there. Just write down the
      panel number,
      > stuff it in your pocket and avoid the terminals. There isn't
      anything there
      > that you can't get on the web site. I located two Michael Dzuba,
      both from
      > "Czechoslovakia", my grandmother's brother.
      > Transcription Project
      > Regarding the transcription project. This effort intends to
      transcribe to
      > computer from ship lists (manifests) all names of immigrants
      > through EI. From there, the lists will then be automatically
      searchable, for
      > the first time ever. It looks to me that what they will do is
      charge you for
      > a printout (or web report) on a per name basis. This project is
      > expensive both for the transcription labor and computer system to
      contain it
      > all. I'll bet they charge between $20 and $30 per name and all
      you'll get is
      > the transcribed data, not an actual copy of the page
      > (Though they may offer that for an additional fee). Hey, welcome
      to America
      > - home of free enterprise and a government unwilling to fund such
      an effort!
      > Main Building
      > The main building is restored and is about 80% accessible, with
      > areas for offices and a research library. The library is
      accessible to
      > credentialed researchers by invitation only. It is very clear that
      it does
      > not contain any family names, ship's lists or anything for
      > research. It looks more like it's for historical research. The
      main building
      > is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning architecture and restoration.
      I'll talk
      > more about the
      > exhibits later.
      > There is no admission fee to the island, the building or the
      exhibits. The
      > National Park Service operates it. My grandfather arrived with $5
      in his
      > pocket, according to the ship manifest, so I made a symbolic $5
      donation to
      > the little donation box in the Registry Room.
      > Also on the island are all the hospital buildings. They are all in
      > decrepit state and are barred from access. Some have bushes
      growing from the
      > balconies; all have broken or boarded windows. There is quite a
      bit of
      > infrastructure left from Ellis Island's last use as an Alien
      > center (read: prison), complete with bars on the windows of un-
      > structures, barbed wires. Someday, if enough money is raised, they
      intend to
      > restore them also. Amazing to think that when the place was
      abandoned in the
      > 1960's, ferry boats were left moored to EI and sunk in place,
      their roofs
      > poking thru the water while they deteriorated. All that is gone
      > The Ferry Ride from Central Railway of New Jersey (Liberty State
      > To get there, you jump onto a ferry from either Battery Park in
      Manhattan or
      > the restored NJ Central Railway Terminal in New Jersey, located in
      > state-owned Liberty National Park (parking fee $5). It is very
      > visit to the restored railroad station, if only for the spiritual
      > experience. It was here that many of our relatives set foot on
      > mainland and traveled west to Pennsylvania and beyond. There's a
      > exhibit (how much can be said about a train station?) and it's
      free. Some
      > families met their immigrants here. One unfortunate thing, when I
      was there
      > five years ago to the train station, the old destination signs
      were still
      > posted - Pittsburgh, Scranton, Baltimore, Princeton, Wilkes-Barre,
      etc. Many
      > the places our ancestors might have traveled to or passed through.
      > they've restored train descriptors from the 1940's when the
      station was used
      > for commuters – names like "5:30 Special", "Wall Street
      Express", "PA
      > Commuter". Doesn't quite cut it for genealogists like me. $7 gets
      you a
      > round trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stopping at
      each for
      > as long as you want. I left at 9:30 am, arrived at EI 10 minutes
      later, made
      > a beeline to the 2nd floor (hey, that's the business end of EI !)
      and had
      > the Registry Room (a.k.a. Great Hall) to myself for the first 5
      minutes. I
      > stood there thinking about my Grand Parents (GPs) the whole time.
      > about the hours my GPs must have stood there. During my GPs time
      > 1909), there were lines for everything. It was a very moving
      experience. I
      > really began to understand just how exciting and scary this whole
      > really was. It was an enormous bureaucracy and you're just a small
      pea in
      > the pod with no power or influence. More on this later.
      > Hours
      > I arrived by 9:45 and found the place pretty empty. When I finally
      > from the exhibits at 1pm, the place was packed. You have to queue
      up to get
      > free tickets for the half hour movie, but there's no line for
      tickets first
      > thing in the AM. By 1 pm the queue was about 40 people long. This
      > off-season, so I can't say for summertime. The last ferry departs
      > 5pm, though you'll have to deal with rush hour. Small price to
      pay, dealing
      > with rush hour. Our immigrants had to forgo a two to four week
      > Who to Go With
      > If you're into this ancestry stuff like I am, don't go with young
      > (honestly, they only have about 10 minutes of patience, while you
      spend 10
      > minutes just reading the narratives on each exhibit). I have 3
      kids under
      > 11, no one came with me, due to lack of interest. Just as well,
      they would
      > have been ready to leave in 1 hour, while I stayed 4 hours. NPS
      suggests 3
      > hours at EI. The exhibits are all passive - none of this
      interactive stuff
      > that keeps kid's attention.
      > Next Time
      > In my next letter, I'll tell you about the main building and the
      > Then, I'll tell you about the outside experience - approaching EI
      by ferry,
      > as our ancestors did. Finally, I'll tell you about the Statue of
      Liberty, as
      > I saw it, with the perspective of my ancestors. I've also reviewed
      quite a
      > few books on EI and the experience there. I'll include my
      > Halfway There
      > After the trip, I feel like I've made it "halfway back", 93 years
      > When I finally set foot in my ancestral village, then I'll feel
      like the
      > family has finally come full circle.
      > I hope you've enjoyed this little narrative. Send me your
      questions, I'll
      > collect them together and respond collectively.
      > Bill Tarkulich
      > Lexington, Massachusetts
      > Part II –The Journey
      > I arrived at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, the
      New Jersey
      > train station about half past 9 in the morning on a cold December
      morning a
      > couple days after Christmas, 2000. It was kind of the reverse
      journey of my
      > grandparent's trip. I was alone, which was probably for the best,
      since it
      > gave me an opportunity to reflect on how alone they must have
      > It was sunny but cold and windy. Wear warm clothes, hat and
      gloves until
      > the warmest of days. I drove to the end of the part, to the
      > terminal, parked, and paid my $5. Walked what seemed like forever
      (on a
      > cold and windy day) to the terminal building. Ah, heat inside.
      Paid $7.00
      > for a ticket. These boats have ample inside space that is
      heated. Only
      > about 10 other folks joined me for the 9:30 am ride. It took
      about 10
      > minutes to get there and a couple minutes to unload.
      > The skyline of Manhattan across the harbor probably looks as
      > today as it did in 1904 when an 18 year old farmer from Zemplin
      county who
      > never traveled more than a few miles from the village by foot or
      wagon. So
      > close, but yet so far. First the bureaucracy he's heard so much
      > The boat pulls up to the front of the main building. A beautifully
      > magnificent building, very powerful looking. Nothing going on
      outside, so I
      > hurried in. I'm sure my grandparents had been told what to
      expect, but with
      > thousands of people standing in lines everywhere, speaking not a
      word of
      > English, it must have been very intimidating.
      > When you walk into the first floor of the main building, you
      encounter a
      > very large space with a "wall" of luggage in front of you. This
      is where
      > the immigrants had to leave all their worldly possessions while
      they were
      > processed. They left their trunks filled clothes and sentimental
      > mostly at the foot of the stairs. This was period luggage circa
      1900. The
      > curators did a fine job of collecting originals of all sorts. To
      your left
      > was an information booth, where you obtain free tickets for two or
      > separate films. I skipped the films and went right up the stairs
      to the
      > Registry Room (also known as the "Great Hall" and "Hall of
      Tears"). I was
      > on a mission to see the "business end" of Ellis Island. In my
      > time, they would have queued into a line that snaked its way
      upstairs to
      > meet their first medical inspection at the top of the stairs.
      Little did
      > these folks know they were already being examined. Inspectors
      noted whether
      > or not people had trouble going up the one flight of stairs. I
      buzzed right
      > up the stairs. Wanted to "beat the crowds".
      > The Registry Room
      > At the top of the stairs was the chamber we've all seen countless
      > of. The difference was that for me it was entirely empty. It
      seemed much
      > smaller than the pictures portrayed. It was hard to imagine it
      > process 5,000 people per day. I stood there alone for almost five
      > There was but one small narrative at each end of the hall. Not
      much to
      > read. Not much to look at, yet everything to look at. I could
      > this place filled with lines and lines of people. It was tiled
      > Struck me as a very noisy place. But was it?
      > I saw a couple of rows of benches, looked pretty old. I chose to
      stand as
      > I'll bet my grandparents stood for hours too. I went to the far
      end of the
      > hall and there was one of those contribution boxes, indicating
      admission was
      > free, but your contribution would help. When I saw my
      grandfather's ship's
      > manifest, it indicated he arrived with five U.S. Dollars. I made
      a $5.00
      > contribution.
      > From here, I began viewing the static exhibits. The exhibits were
      > educational, though I had already learned quite a bit before I
      > Like any good genealogist, I did my homework before I traveled.
      > were housed in the various processing rooms used for medical
      exams, legal
      > hearings, psychological testing. These were second-level
      processing, for
      > those who might have raised the initial inspector's suspicions.
      In glass
      > cases were many of the items the inspectors used including the
      button hook
      > tool used to pullback the eyelid for the dreaded trachoma
      > Online Resources:
      > http://www.libertystatepark.com/history.htm History of Liberty
      State Park,
      > NJ
      > _Jersey.html Central Railway of New Jersey (lots of great
      > http://www.ellisisland.org Ellis Island Nonprofit Organization
      > http://www.wallofhonor.com/ Wall of Honor, Ellis Island
      > http://www.nps.gov/stli/mainmenu.htm National Park Service,
      Statue of
      > Liberty and Ellis Island
      > Near line Resources:
      > "Voices from Ellis Island : an oral history of American
      immigration : a
      > project of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation",
      Microfilm of
      > original typescripts of oral interviews conducted between 1985 and
      1986 in
      > various New England states of the United States. Mormon Family
      > Center, FHL US/CAN Films 1689050 to 1689057 .
      > http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlc/supermainframeset.asp?
      > ral_histo&last=109&columns=*%2C180%2C0
      > Bill

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