Ellis Island Isolation Hospital

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Ellis Island Isolation Hospital
Established January 1, 1892
Construction Began 1900
Opened 1902
Closed 1954
Current Status Closed and Preserved
Building Style Cottage Plan
Architect(s) Boring and Tilton
Location Jersey City, NJ
Architecture Style Beaux Arts/Renaissance Revival
Alternate Names Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital

Ellis Island Isolation Hospital was a general hospital and a contagious disease hospital that operated on Ellis Island from 1902 to 1930.


In the nineteenth century, the United States had suffered three devastating cholera outbreaks, with each originating abroad. As Ellis Island being the port of entry, it's two story wooden dispensary was not equipped to handle such threats. For the next decade the issue of how to protect the health of the nation and the immigrants loomed over Ellis. The problem would only intensify when the wooden infirmary caught fire and burned to the ground in 1897.

President Theodore Roosevelt proposed a change in immigration policy and recognized that Ellis Island needed a more thorough way to process it's health screening. There was no extra vacant land to build a hospital, but tons of rocks being excavated to build the New York subway system provided enough to landfill two islands. Designated simply as Island No. 2 and Island No. 3, they were home to the general and infectious diseases hospitals.

Connected by a gangplank, Island No. 2 was separated by 200 feet of water from the original island and home to the new General Hospital. It opened in 1902, with 120 beds making it larger then most of the city hospitals at the time, and would eventually expand to 275 beds. The hospital included four operating rooms, a delivery room, and a morgue. A psychopathic pavilion was built after two mentally ill patients committed suicide in the general hospital. The pavilion was incorporated to house "idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, insane persons, and epileptics."

The Contagious Disease Hospital, located on Island No. 3 and more than 400 feet from the main island opened in 1911. The hospital had eighteen wards, each built to house patients with a particular disease. There were separate wards for whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever, favus, and diphtheria, and two wards each for trachoma and tuberculosis. The hospital also had it's own laundry, mattress autoclave that could sterilize entire beds, an eight-cadaver refrigerator, an autopsy amphitheater, and a laboratory.

Ellis Island remained open and served many purposes. During WWII it primarily served as a detention center with approximately 7000 aliens and citizens detained by 1946. When the last detainee was released in November of 1956, Ellis Island officially closed.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared Ellis Island part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Ellis Island was opened to the public on a limited basis between 1976 and 1984. Starting in 1984, Ellis Island’s Main Building, Railroad Ticket Office and adjacent buildings underwent a major restoration.. The $160 million was reopened to the public on September 10, 1990 as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Today, the museum receives almost 2 million annually. [1]

Images of Ellis Island Isolation Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Ellis Island Isolation Hospital

Additional Information & Links[edit]

  • Save Ellis Island [2]
  • Forgotten Ellis Island [3]