Ellis Island, here welcoming immigrants in 1900, was the gateway to America for millions of immigrants between 1892 and 1934. Although often associated with New York, Ellis Island is actually part of New Jersey.
Photograph Department of the Treasury, Public Health Service

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  • On May 26, 1998, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Ellis Island was mostly in the state of New Jersey—not mostly in the state of New York. Ellis Island is an important part of American history, and both states claimed the tiny speck of land in Upper New York Bay.
    In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Ellis Island was the first place many European immigrants set foot when they stepped off a boat from the “Old Country.” Here, immigrants signed papers, and doctors examined them before allowing them to live in the United States. 
    Today, Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and largely controlled by the National Park Service, a federal organization. The Supreme Court ruling mostly impacts sales taxes gained from gift shops at the park, as well as rights to future development.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    development Noun

    growth, or changing from one condition to another.

    Encyclopedic Entry: development
    federal Adjective

    having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).

    immigrant Noun

    person who moves to a new country or region.

    National Park Service Noun

    U.S. federal agency with the mission of caring "for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage."

    Supreme Court Noun

    highest judicial authority on issues of national or constitutional importance in the U.S.