Immigration

The United States was built on immigration. The period of from 1850 to the early 1900s saw a dramatic increase in immigration. In 1820 a total of 8,385 immigrants were admitted into the country. By 1865 over 100,000 immigrants were entering the country each year. And by 1906 over 1.1 million people were coming to America, most passing through Ellis Island, the immigration nexus.

Immigrants on the Deck of Ship

Immigrants on the Deck of Ship

These immigrants were mainly European, but not from Britain. The majority were Italians or East Europeans from Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Among the East Europeans were many Jews and Roman Catholics, whose faiths were often the targets of discrimination and contempt from the established Protestant majority.

Ellis Island Immigration Station

Ellis Island Immigration Station

The influx of immigration caused problems of assimilation and accomodation. Many immigrants found themselves relegated to crowded and unsanitary apartments in inner city slums. Still, for many fleeing persecution and dead end poverty in their own country, the living conditions in the worst inner city slums were better than what they had left behind.

This is a pictorial history of some of the people that passed through Ellis island during the heyday of immigration.

Receiving Hall at Ellis Island

Receiving Hall at Ellis Island

Once the immigrants landed at Ellis Island they had to wait hours and hours in different lines while their applications for entry were processed. There were questions, and more questions, and medical examinations. For the lucky, the process ended with permission to board a ferry to New York. For those rejected, the process led to detention and deportation.

In the picture above, you can see the masses of people that went through the screening process every day. The letters in the photograph explain what each line was for:

(A) Entrance stairs; (B) Examination of health ticket; (C) Surgeon’s examination; (D) Second surgeon’s examination; (E) Group compartments; (F) Waiting for inspection; (G) Passage to the stairway; (H) Detention room; (I) The Inspectors’ desks; (K) Outward passage to barge, ferry, or detention room.

Below is a picture of some immigrants who were detained for special examination. It is not known if they were eventually let through:

Immigrants at Ellis Island

Immigrants at Ellis Island

In the picture below, an immigrant rejected for admission appeals to a special tribunal.

appealing a deportation order

appealing a deportation order

The lucky ones that made it through the immigration screening were then allowed to take a ferry that landed them in New York. Below is a picture of the newly arrived immigrants landing at Battery Park.

Immigrants arriving in New York after passing through Ellis Island

Immigrants arriving in New York after passing through Ellis Island

The immigrants were now in America, but their struggles were far from over.

Next Article: Life in America for New Immigrants

The First Ford Automobile

The First Autombile

The First Automobile

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but he revolutionized the production of the car by using assembly lines and standardized parts. His famous line, that” people can have the Model T in any color as long as it’s black” was said only half in jest: the secret of his success was indeed standardization

in order to achieve uniformity of quality and speed of assembly.  Before the rise of the Ford Motor Company,  early automobiles were hand crafted, expensive, and used unique improvised parts so that maintenance was difficult and replacement parts hard to come by.

Before Ford developed his assembly line system, he was like many other inventors experimenting with the new combustion engines. In 1893 Ford built his first automobile.  The technology was so new at the time that the word “automobile” (which literally means self-moving) had not yet been invented. Ford called his first automobile “a wagon driven by gas.”

This first automobile design was not a commercial success. People laughed at the inventor and said that the contraption was useless. Horses were afraid of it.

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