It was 1908, and the
promise of prosperity in the New World beckoned. Men, women and
children from throughout Europe and the United Kingdom packed up
whatever belongings they could carry and crossed the Atlantic on steam
freighters, and ocean liners such as Cunard's newly launched
"Mauretania." Often times crowded into steerage with fellow immigrants,
they would watch with great anticipation from the portholes and
railings of the ship as the last leg of their long voyage brought them
to New York harbor. There, the Statue Of Liberty greeted the weary
travelers as a symbol of hope for a new life.
As the "Mauretania"
docked at its Hudson River pier, the wide-eyed new Americans were
transferred to the immigration depot at Ellis Island, where they were
processed and given medical attention. From Ellis Island's opening in
1892 until its closing in 1954, nearly 20 million immigrants came
through her doors.
This 1908 view, looking
west from Battery Park at the foot of Manhattan, shows the setting sun
illuminating the busy waters of New York Bay. Many different types of
vessels could be spotted on a typical day back in the era of sail and
steam ... passenger steamers, ferries, sailing sloops, pleasure yachts
and others that had to make way for the massive ocean liners. Castle
Clinton, the fortress-like round building in the foreground, was, at
this time period, the New York Aquarium ... but at one time it was the
original immigrant landing station for the port of New York. She stands
today as a reminder of these times with a plaque that reads, "The
Gateway To The New World."