Jon Crispin's Notebook

Ellis Island

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Construction, History by joncrispin on 08/03/2012

I had the rarest of opportunities yesterday.  Pieper is giving a presentation on Ellis Island about the construction of the original buildings and he had me come out with him to take photographs to illustrate his talk.  It was an incredible day, and I was mostly in a state of near rapture.  I have always wanted to photograph the unrestored buildings on the island and am so grateful to Pieper and  Darcy Hartman of Save Ellis Island for the chance.  This photograph was taken in what I believe is called the Doctor’s (or Surgeon’s) residence.  I’ll post more in the days to come.  Here is some information on the talk: “The Actual Bricks and Mortar Story; Building Ellis Island’s Hospitals”.  10.30 to 12.30 on 15 April, 2012.  It is open to the public but limited to 50 participants.  For information, email    For anyone interested in these buildings this is a unique chance to don a hardhat and take a tour of the usually off limits parts of the island.

20 Responses

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  1. Lynn Obermoeller said, on 08/03/2012 at 12:47 pm

    Fascinating. Love the pic.

  2. leamuse said, on 08/03/2012 at 1:04 pm

    Ellis Island would have been on my list to see when I lived in NY. However, it had not been opened back then. Now I live in France so it is not likely. My family were immigrants (UK and Sweden) but all came through Canada. C’est la vie! Regardless, it is still a fascinating place filled with stories. Perhaps you will post more from there?

  3. L.S. Stuhler said, on 08/03/2012 at 2:11 pm

    I would love to visit Ellis Island. This is where the doctors performed six second physicals to determine whether you were healthy, vermin free, and if you were mentally ill. I would also love to visit Castle Garden where my ancestors entered the U.S. Thanks, Jon!

  4. B.R. Jones said, on 08/03/2012 at 2:42 pm

    There is a PBS Ellis Island special that is wonderful. While a born and bred New Yorker with my history completely connected to Ellis Island, I have yet to visit.
    One of the many fascinating facts in the program was that it is not a natural island but one built upon the subway system excavation debris!
    Jon, if you have a chance you should also visit The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side – you’ll be thrilled with it!

    • joncrispin said, on 08/03/2012 at 3:41 pm

      B.R. Thanks, according to Pieper there actually was a small natural island before they started filling with debris. So cool though. I appreciate your comment. jon

  5. Molly said, on 08/03/2012 at 2:58 pm

    Wow! I wish I could go. What a great picture and a neat topic. Can’t wait to see more!

  6. Stacy said, on 08/03/2012 at 3:34 pm

    In this single photograph I felt and shared your rapture.

    • joncrispin said, on 08/03/2012 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks, I am so happy to be able to share. WordPress has been the best for me. Jon

  7. Cathleen said, on 08/03/2012 at 8:18 pm

    I can see why you’ve been wanting to photograph the buildings. This picture oozes history. Beautiful.

  8. Desiree said, on 08/03/2012 at 9:51 pm

    My heart melted at this pic … you are so lucky and maybe you have some more of your exquisite pics to share with Aussies so very far away? Thank you Jon, I love your work so much:)).

  9. Shanta said, on 09/03/2012 at 2:56 am

    Would be great to podcast the talk, would love to hear it but am in the wrong hemisphere!

    • joncrispin said, on 09/03/2012 at 11:22 am

      Not that I am aware of, but I will suggest it. Thanks for following. Jon

  10. Peach Farm Studio said, on 09/03/2012 at 3:02 am

    Congratulations on yet another wonderful photography adventure!

  11. Sheila said, on 09/03/2012 at 2:20 pm

    Photo is wonderful….but it just makes you want to see more

  12. Florence Hochman said, on 09/03/2012 at 5:01 pm

    Thank you for this. I just found a photo of my husband pointing out his family name on the wall. It means so much to us. What a thrill for you!

  13. Photobooth Journal said, on 09/03/2012 at 8:37 pm

    Another Aussie who is thrilled by your work! I would have felt the same about being there. So evocative, so full of history, joy and sadness. It is as close to a trip in Doctor Who’s Tardis as anyone could get in real life. Your suitcases are the same – mini time machines.

  14. thdpr said, on 12/03/2012 at 11:41 am

    Incredible! I wish I could go a shoot there. I love urban exploration and photographing old buildings. I really wish I could be at the talk. So fascinating. And yes, the Tenement Museum is INCREDIBLE!!! To think of how many people lived in such a small space!

  15. Elizabeth Harper said, on 08/11/2012 at 6:38 am

    I’m terribly jealous! I’ve been to Ellis Island at least four times and would love a chance to see and photograph more than I’ve been able to in the past. I’m so enjoying your blog posts and images and will have to go back and thank the Facebook friend of mine who posted a link to your Willard Suitcase project photographs.

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