Ellis Island: New Immigration Building – New York NY


The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) describes the New Deal’s extensive work on Ellis Island, which included building this new immigration building:

“The New Immigration Building is one of three major New Deal-era buildings at Ellis Island created to meet the changing scope of immigration services at the facility. Constructed on fill joining Island 1 and Island 2, the New Immigration Building was intended as the new processing center for the diminishing numbers of arriving immigrants, while the existing Baggage and Dormitory Building and the Main Immigration building on Island 1 handled the increasing number of deportees. The clean lines and minimalist detailing of the New Immigration Building set this building apart from the ornate Beaux Arts design of the earlier structures. Although designed as a two-story building, only the first floor of the New Immigration Building was constructed; adequate structural support was included to permit future erection of the second story with load bearing brick walls and a concrete roof. A covered passageway links the building to the 1934 Ferry Building, located to the east at the head of the ferry slip. Inside, the New Immigration Building contained public rooms in the central building mass and dormitory space in the flanking wings. The building was not used for its intended purpose and remained vacant for several years after completion. From 1939-1946, it was occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard, from 1946 to 1951 by the U.S. Public Health Service, and between 1951 and 1954 by the Coast Guard. The original interior plan was modified by limited room partitioning during the 1939-1954 period. In 1970 a portion of the building was used by the National Economic Growth and Reconstruction Organization, Inc. (NEGRO) as housing for organization members.”

Ellis Island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. The New Immigration Building is still standing, but HABS photos from 2010 displayed here show it to be in disrepair, just like “nearly 30” other buildings on Ellis Island (nps.gov). These notes do not specify what New Deal agencies were involved, but Short and Brown’s 1939 book on PWA accomplishments states that the PWA allotment used for the ferry building “included also a building for incoming immigrants and the remodeling of other structures,” and other HABS documents cite the WPA’s work on other structures on the island.

Source notes

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, Ellis Island, New Immigration Building
C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown. "Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration." (1939).
Historic Ellis Island structure reopening - USA Today

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Ellis Island
New York, NY

Location notes:

Coordinates: 40.699617, -74.041824

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Your email address will not be published.