Immigrant Processing Centers for New York City

Ellis Island, Castle Garden and the Barge Office

Were your ancestors processed at the immigrant station on Ellis Island? If they landed in New York, they were processed at one of the following locations, depending on when they arrived...

[prior to 1855, see the text below]

Aug 1, 1855 - April 18, 1890...Castle Garden

April 19, 1890 - Dec 31, 1891...Barge Office

Jan 1, 1892 - June 14, 1897...Ellis Island

On the night of June 14-15, 1897 the building on Ellis Island was destroyed in a fire so the Barge Office was again used for immigrants. The customs passenger records were kept elsewhere and were NOT lost in the fire.

June 15, 1897 - Dec 16, 1900....Barge Office

A new building on Ellis Island opened on Dec 17, 1900.

Dec 17, 1900 - late 1924....Ellis Island
  Elllis Island & Manhattan
Ellis Island Looking East Toward Manhattan, Photographed by Jack E. Boucher/Historic American Buildings Survey, April 1978
courtesy of the Library of Congress - click image for a larger view (103k)


Castle Garden was located on the southwest tip of Manhattan in Battery Park while the Barge Office was located on the southeast tip. Before the Castle Garden center opened in 1855 the passengers simply got off the ship onto whatever wharf they had landed on in Manhattan. There was no central processing center. They were recorded on passenger arrival lists beginning in 1820. It should be noted that the ships never actually landed at Ellis Island. They landed at Manhattan and the passengers were ferried over to the island for processing. Generally only steerage passengers went to Ellis Island for inspection. Most of the first and second class passengers were allowed to leave the ship soon after docking. All passengers, however, were listed on the ship manifest (or passenger list).

On Jan. 1, 1892 an Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first person to be processed at Ellis Island. The day also happened to be her fifteenth birthday. She had arrived in New York on the steamship Nevada with her two younger brothers. She was presented with a ten dollar gold piece. Approximately 12 million people followed her over the next 32 years.

Beginning in July, 1924 prospective immigrants were pre-inspected at US embassies overseas. They were inspected again at the port of arrival before leaving the ship.

Ellis Island was named for Samuel Ellis, who owned the island in the 1770s. Today Castle Garden is known as Castle Clinton National Monument.


Emigrants arriving at Ellis Island, 1903
Stills from the Thomas A. Edison, Inc. film: Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island, 1903; Courtesy the Library of Congress



New York Passenger Records 1820-1957 | Genealogy Websites

Photograph of the Barge Office | Photograph of Castle Garden

Photograph of Ellis Island | Scan of Annie Moore's Passenger List



The Ellis Island Website is part of the German Roots Family of Genealogy Websites
German Genealogy Resources




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compiled by Joe Beine [Contact]
may not be republished in any form without permission