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Give Me Your Tired Graphic

"Give Me Your Tired . . .
Images of Immigration from the Museum of the City of New York"


Since the Dutch first colonized what is now New York, this seaport city has welcomed millions of people to America's shores. They have come from all four corners of the world: from England to Ethiopia, Italy to Indonesia and Turkey to Thailand. Between 1855 (the year New York's official immigration center at Castle Garden opened) to 1880, the largest numbers of immigrants to the United States were from Ireland and Germany. Between 1880 and 1919 more than 23 million people emigrated to the United States; of these 17 million entered through New York City. The two largest groups during this period were Russian Jews and Italians.

In 1924 Congress passed the National Origins Act, restricting the flow of immigrants based on their place of origin. Between the Depression in the 1930s and World War II in the early 1940s, immigration declined sharply. Post-war immigration to New York was dominated by newcomers from Puerto Rico and Latin America. Since 1965, the year of the passage of the Hart-Cellar Act, which ended discrimination based on national origin, immigrants from nearly all parts of South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East moved to the United States. Immigrants have come to the United States as political and religious exiles, the impoverished seeking opportunity, the adventuresome in search of a challenge, the staid looking for change, and for scores of other reasons. Some have come with fine-tuned skills, while others have learned trades and professions in America, often shedding traditional agrarian skills for those required of urban life. Over the years, the faces of immigrants have changed, but the desire to create a new life in America-particularly in New York City-remains unchanged, and this enthusiasm continues to be an asset to the communities that these new American's call home.

The images assembled here portray immigrants who came to and lived in New York during the operation of Castle Garden and Ellis Island. Between 1880 and 1924, the great waves of immigration to and through New York inspired many photographers and illustrators to depict the arrival of these newcomers and to document their new lives in the metropolis. Drawn from the unparalleled collections of the Museum of the City of New York, these images present a broad overview of how immigrants arrived and started to settle in New York City between 1855 and 1955. Crosswalks Television's documentary, Immigrants in America on America, presents a more contemporary look at immigration, and Brian G. Andersson's "Names and Numbers" presentation illuminates the history of immigration to New York with statistical data and maps, personal items, and some names of famous-and not so famous-New Yorkers.

To accommodate the growing number of immigrants to the United States who used New York as their first port of call, an official immigration center was established at Castle Garden in 1855. Situated on land-fill at the tip of the Battery, the former fortification, concert hall, and entertainment center housed the processing of immigrants until 1890. In 1860, 105,123 immigrants disembarked there, of whom 47,330 were Irish, 37, 899 were German and 11,361 were English.

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