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Save Ellis Island

Menendez and Cunningham Join Save Ellis Island! Board

Save Ellis Island!, a publicly supported, non-profit foundation dedicated to rescuing 29 decaying buildings on Ellis Island, announced today that New Jersey Congressman Robert Menendez and Jersey City Mayor Glen Cunningham have agreed to join its Board of Directors.

Congressman Menendez is currently serving his fifth term as Representative of New Jersey's 13th Congressional District. The 13th district includes the 22.5 acres on Ellis Island that a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court ruling awarded sovereignty over to the State of New Jersey. As Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, Menendez is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Hispanic ever elected to a leadership position in Congress. Menendez has utilized his power in the House of Representatives to fight for federal funding to stabilize Ellis Island's decaying buildings and seawall. He also strongly supported successful grant applications to the White House Save America's Treasures Program for funds to restore the first two of the 29 decaying buildings in Ellis Island's South Side Hospital Complex.

"Ellis Island stands as a constant reminder that the United States is a country of immigrants. This unique historic and national monument served as the gateway to a new life for millions of immigrants, and we owe it their memory and sacrifices to preserve its legacy for generations to come," said Menendez. "This is why I continue my fight in Congress to secure federal funding for the upkeep and restoration of this precious landmark. I am deeply honored to join the Board of Directors of Save Ellis Island! and will continue my efforts on behalf of this invaluable piece of American history."

Though owned and operated by the National Park Service, as part of its Liberty National Monument, sovereignty over Ellis Island is shared by the states of New York and New Jersey. The 22.5-acre New Jersey portion of the island falls within the jurisdictional boundaries of Jersey City. Jersey City has long included Ellis Island in its strategic plans for creating a global visitor destination in the region.

Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, who is well versed in local history, acknowledged the historical significance of Ellis Island to America noting that it served as the major corridor to what has become the most diverse nation in the world. Cunningham's enthusiasm for history spirited him to write and narrate Hidden Footprints, a cable television documentary that traces the history of African Americans in Jersey City. In July of this year, Cunningham wrote history himself in becoming the first African American to be elected mayor of Jersey City.

"In preserving our history, our footprints of the past, it not only pays tribute to the pioneers and the sacrifices made by so many, but also serves as a reference guide for the future," Cunningham said.

Save Ellis Island! has been recognized by the National Park Service as its primary fundraising partner in seeking the estimated $300 million needed to restore the 29 decaying buildings in Ellis Island's South Side Hospital Complex. The foundation plans to launch a national fundraising campaign in 2002, once the National Park Service has completed its current Development Concept Plan and Environmental Impact Statement process for determining preferred reuses for the restored structures. Save Ellis Island President Judith McAlpin stated that the foundation's efforts will be significantly bolstered with the assistance of its two new Directors.

"Save Ellis Island's grasp of public sector interests and priorities will be greatly enhanced by the involvement of Congressman Menendez and Mayor Cunningham. Congressman Menendez, together with his staff, both Washington, DC and New Jersey, has been tremendously supportive of our efforts so far and we look forward to even greater interaction going forward. Jersey City, with its growth and vitality, ensures that the reuse planning for Ellis Island will have significance and impact as our huge project progresses and we look forward to continuing the partnership begun several years ago thanks to the support of the Office of Mayor," explained McAlpin.

Ellis Island served as the national immigration center from 1882 until 1954. Nearly 12 million immigrants entered the United States through its portals and it is estimated that 40% of today's Americans are related to someone who came through Ellis Island. Currently, only three of its 33 buildings have been restored. One of these structures houses the nationally acclaimed Ellis Island Immigration Museum that receives over two million visitors a year. The rest of the buildings on the island have been empty and unused since 1954 and were in varying states of severe decay before recent stabilization efforts began.

Ellis Island Ferry Building Exhibit

Save Ellis Island!, a publicly supported, non-profit foundation dedicated to rescuing the un-restored buildings on Ellis Island, announced today the receipt of a $10,000 grant to aid in the research for the design of the first exhibition to be installed in the newly restored Ferry Building on Ellis Island. The planning for this exhibitory was made possible in part by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Ferry Building - the first of the buildings on the portion of Ellis Island under New Jersey sovereignty to be restored, physically links the current Immigration Museum to the un-restored buildings on Ellis Islandís South Side. The exhibit will explain the history of the South Side Hospital Complex and the role the activities undertaken in these buildings played in the immigrant arrival experience and in public health, beginning in the late 19th century through the closing of Ellis Island in 1954. The exhibit will show the intersection of immigration policy and public health, specifically how immigration policies and public attitudes affected the health services on Ellis Island. The exhibit will also raise public awareness about the preservation and restoration plans, which include such reuses as historical and educational facilities.

The research project will make use of the extensive archives on Ellis Island, the artifact collection maintained by the National Park Service on Ellis Island, photographs in the Library of Congress and information in the archives of the National Public Health Service in Washington, DC. Additionally, contemporary photographs of the buildings on the South Side before stabilization work began will be incorporated into the exhibit.

The exhibit will interpret immigrant health inspection and treatment on Ellis Island as it intersected with, and informed, immigration policy in the late 19th century and early 20th century being the first venue to complete the story of Ellis Island by focusing on the medical inspection and public health aspect of the immigrant arrival experience.

This project will link New Jersey history, through its sovereignty over the South Side hospital buildings, to national events surrounding immigration and its impact on society and culture. The proposed project will also expand public understanding and awareness of historic resources by introducing the public to the buildings on Ellis Islandís South Side and the plans for their restoration and reuse.

New Jersey State Legislators Tour Ellis Island

New Jersey State Legislators tour Ellis island to observe massive Stabilization and Restoration Project Underway on "Gateway to America"

Over 50 New Jersey State legislators traveled to Ellis Island today to tour and learn about the Ellis Island stabilization and restoration project one of the largest projects of its kind in the nation. The tour was sponsored by New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny.

"Ellis Island is our primary symbol in New Jersey and America of the fact that our nationís strength has come from the diversity of its people and their heritage. I have invited my fellow legislators here to learn more about this important project and ensure that New Jersey continues to lead the nation in efforts to restore this national icon for the benefit of generations to come," said New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires.

 New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny added, "The restoration of this national icon, right here off the shore of Liberty State Park, is a critical component of the restoration and beautification efforts which have been so successful along the entire North Jersey shoreline in the past decades. This project is one of the most important efforts taking place in the State of New Jersey today and the New Jersey State Legislature has strongly supported it since its inception."

Legislators toured Ellis Island buildings under restoration, those which had been stabilized and those awaiting stabilization They toured the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and learned about the history of the Ellis Island Stabilization and Restoration Project from Diane H. Dayson, National Park Service Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island and Judith McAlpin, President, of Save Ellis Island!

"I am pleased and honored to welcome so many members of the New Jersey State Legislature here to Ellis Island today," said Diane H. Dayson. "The National Park Service has had an excellent partnership with the State of New Jersey on Ellis Island and looks forward to working with New Jersey and the rest of the nation to restore this critical piece of our AmericaĻs history."

The National Park Service owns and operates all of Ellis Island as an historic national monument. The New Jersey portion of the island houses 30 vacant buildings that used to make up the South Side Hospital Complex, the Ferry Building and the Baggage and Dormitory Building. Currently, the un-restored portion of the island is off-limits to the public.

New Jersey has donated nearly $3.5 million towards the estimated $8.6 million stabilization of these buildings. The rest of the funds have been secured from Congress and the National Park Service. New Jersey has spent $3 million to help restore the Ferry Building and the Laundry and Hospital Outbuilding so that they can be opened to the public. Save Ellis Island! is now seeking an additional $1 million in state funds to restore the Interior Pedestrian Passageway which links these two buildings. The New Jersey Council for the Humanities has just recently provided a $10,000 grant for planning the exhibitory for these structures that will tell their history and that of the other buildings in need of restoration.

Save Ellis Island!, a non-profit foundation dedicated to saving the vacant buildings on Ellis Island, is the official partner to the National Park Service for raising the estimated $300 million needed to complete the restoration. Once the National Park Service has issued its preferred reuse plan for the buildings, due out in late summer, Save Ellis Island! will launch a national awareness-building and capital fundraising campaign to restore the structures.

 "The State of New Jersey has been unfailingly supportive of this important project since it began," said Judith McAlpin, President, Save Ellis Island! "This strong showing from the legislature today makes it clear that New Jersey is committed to remaining in the forefront of efforts to reopen all of Ellis Island to the public."

 Ellis Island was the "Gateway to America" for over 12 million immigrants during its peak operating period from the 1890ís to 1920ís. The majority of those who came through Ellis Island then traveled to the Liberty State Park Railroad Terminal, from which they took trains all over America to settle and begin their new lives. Currently, nearly 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry to those who passed through Ellis Island. Ellis Island is located off the shores of Liberty State Park in the Hudson River.





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