If you plan a visit to NYC, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island should be on the top of your list, and don’t forget to add some extra time to check out the JR Unframed Ellis Island exhibit. Last summer, JR took over the dilapidated quarters of the Ellis Island immigrant hospital which had been closed for the last 60 years. Inside, he recreated an eery historical photography exhibit bringing the walls and spirit of the hospital back to life. When I look at these wheat pastes, I see struggle, ghosts and new beginnings…all the things that Ellis Island stood for.
“The Ellis Island hospital opened in 1902, in a grand building on the southern half of the island, across from the Registry Room, where newcomers were processed. Doctors took but a few seconds to determine if foreigners were healthy enough to enter. Some were sent back, but others were directed to the hospital, which eventually had 750 beds across several buildings and was considered a paragon of public health management. It also had a contagious disease wing and isolation rooms, a “psychopathic” ward, a laboratory and a morgue.” (NY Times)
“The hospital treated measles and scarlet fever, along with rarer diseases, and even employed female doctors in the early 1900s. About 1.2 million people — around 10 percent of Ellis Island arrivals — passed through its doors. Some 350 babies were born there, and 3,500 people died, before the immigrant hospital was gradually shuttered by the 1930s.” (via NY Times)