Ellis Island straddles New York and New Jersey and commemorates the immigrant experience. Millions of American stories began at Ellis Island; by some estimates, 40% of people in the country today have at least one ancestor who entered the U.S. via this station. Though considered a gateway to the American dream, long lines and the threat of detainment and deportation tested the resolve of immigrants, many of whom had already spent days and sometimes months on crowded, unsanitary ships to escape persecution and poverty in their homelands.

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