Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour

Hello readers! I hope you are all doing well. It’s been a while and I sure have missed you all. I was down for the count with kidney stones and then I moved. The recent beautiful weather here in NJ is making me very excited to explore! However, this next article was from last May. I’m very behind on maintaining this blog, but maybe it works in your benefit because I haven’t run out of places to write about. I am also trying out something new…I uploaded my pictures to Flickr and posted the link here, so hopefully it works out and you’re able to see the pictures. If not, please let me know and I’ll do my best job at an IT job. Without further ado, here’s story about the Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour.


As I previously stated, last May, I had gone on this tour. My friend, Alecia, and I have talked about doing the tour for over a year. Unfortunately, a lot of the dates that would work perfectly for us were already sold out, and we didn’t want to go in extreme hot or cold weather. We were smart last year and booked early (I believe mid-March to get the mid-May date).

We paid approximately $50 some odd dollars last year, but I see it now costs $60.50 for the 90 minute guided tour. With that said, I think the tour was longer than 90 minutes, so that’s great for people who like to take pictures, like me! For more details, click here on how to obtain tickets and information.

Alecia and I picked the second tour, I believe, and it was perfect because it gave us time to take the ferry from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, to the island. We were a bit early, but that gave plenty of time to check in at the appropriate desk and receive information on the tour as well as fill out a waiver form, then check out the island for a quick once over (we already visited a year prior), grabbed a snack, and made sure we had used the facilities a few times to be on the safe side because there are no working bathrooms once on the tour. (Disclaimer: Don’t drink a lot of water until the tour is over.) At the designated time, we gathered with the few other tour takers (I think there were maybe 10 of us max, but it may have been a smaller group), and headed out behind a gate with our tour guide.

First thing’s first: hard hats! I didn’t look as awesome as I thought and I hoped I would, but it made for a fantastic photo op! (Side note: there’s a picture of me when I was maybe 4 years old in a bathing suit and Fisher-Price yellow hard hat. I was tipping the beak as if saying “Hello there!” or something. One of the pictures in the link is me trying to recreate it.) I think I remember the tour guide going over the basics of watch where you’re going and that sort of thing. And then on with the tour.

The tour was truly remarkable. I had no idea that on Ellis Island, groundbreaking medical technology/discoveries were made on here and no one was cross-contaminated. Doctors and staff took every precaution to be as sterile as possible. For instance, the rooms have rounded off ceilings to prevent bacteria from sticking around after the rooms were hosed down and cleaned. All hallways contain several drains and hoses in order to wash away ammonia after it was used to clean. I wish I remembered all of the details. Doctors also performed autopsies in a room that contained a gallery for other doctors and medical staff to observe. The tour guide did tell us that the deceased in which autopsies were performed on were immigrants whose families could not afford to pay for the body to be shipped back to their homeland, or something to that affect. People weren’t randomly taken and used as subjects. There were specific protocols in the infectious disease wards so no one else gets sick (including all medical staff) or cross-contaminate one disease with another.  It seemed as though the doctors and nurses wanted the immigrants to be able to live in the United States, so they did their best to make their patient well enough to.

It makes me think of a personal story of my own, in which my mother had a very high fever when her, my grandparents, and my 2 uncles were boarding the General Muir in 1952 to come to the United States. My grandfather told my grandmother to wrap up my mother and just go. I imagine if my mother were still stick upon arrival, she would have been taken care of in the hospital.

On a scale of 1 to 10 if I’d go back and do another tour: I’d say 8. Would I recommend this tour to you, my reader? HECK YES! If you enjoy the parts of history that you typically do not read about or hear about, I think this tour is right up your alley!

Thank you again for reading this and let me know if you’re having any troubles with seeing the pictures I uploaded to Flickr.


Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour pictures up on Flickr.

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