The Ellis Island immigration station opened in New York harbor in 1900, just in time for the huge upswing in immigration to the United States that took place in the years leading up to World War I.

In 1907, the peak year of immigration, 3,000 to 5,000 newcomers a day were examined at Ellis Island as they sought permanent entry to the country. Many photographers, who specialized in maritime subjects, were drawn to Ellis Island by the general human interest and newsworthiness of the scene. These photographs from The New York Public Library depict scenes from 1902-1913 that would not look out of place today at certain immigration processing centers.

The pens at Ellis Island, Registry Room (or Great Hall). These people have passed the first mental inspection.
Passed and waiting to be taken off Ellis Island.
Ready for travel and going North, South and West. Immigrants with baggage lined up at a teller’s window to exchange money.
Immigrants being served a free meal at Ellis Island.
William Williams, Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island form 1902-5 and 1909-13, from whose estate these photographs came. The New York skyline, showing the nearly-completed Woolworth Building tower, is at the left.