When I worked at Ellis Island, the second stop on the Statue of Liberty after Lady Liberty, most people got off the boat, walked to our desk, and asked “where am I?” When we explained what it was, many got back on the boat. This is a huge mistake —- Ellis Island is one of the most interesting and important museums you can visit in New York City.
From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island was the main point of entry for most immigrants coming to the United States; this is where they would get inspected and sent off to start their lives in the New World. Now, it serves as a museum where you can learn all about immigration to the US, what the voyage over was like for immigrants, and what life was like for immigrants that moved from overseas, with a focus on life in NYC. A large percentage of these immigrants settled right here in New York City, forever changing the city into a melting pot of international cultures that still carries on to this day, which makes visiting Ellis Island a great way to get some insight into the history of NYC.
For those interested in medical history or abandoned buildings, I cannot recommend the Hard Hat Tour enough. The Hard Hat Tour is the only way you can see the unrestored hospital on Ellis Island, and the incredible tour guides doing an amazing job of bringing the buildings to life. I know because I used to be one!