FAQ | Ellis Island Tours

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I see?

The tour will take you to select parts of the Ellis Island Hospital, including infectious and contagious disease wards, kitchen, laundry building, and mortuary and autopsy room. The exhibit, Unframed Ellis Island by famous French artist JR is on display throughout the tour route.

Can I walk around by myself?

The south side (Ellis Island Hospital Complex) is part of the island under rehabilitation. Many of the buildings and portions of the grounds are not open. Access to the stabilized and rehabilitated buildings is limited to pre-scheduled guided tours and education programs.

How long is the tour?

The tour is approximately 90 minutes and 1.5 miles long.

The buildings look old. Are they dangerous?

All of the buildings and rooms we visit are safe. The site is under rehabilitation making it necessary for everyone to wear a hard-hat and closed-toe shoes.

Are there ghosts in the hospital?

We don’t know for sure, but anything’s possible. Let us know if you see something!

How should I dress?

The tours run rain or shine, inside and outside of the buildings. We suggest you dress for the weather and be prepared both. The buildings have many open rooms, no air conditioning and no heat. Tour participants are strongly encouraged to wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes.

Do the guides speak languages other than English?

Tours are available only in English. Private tours are available in French and Spanish, but must be reserved in advance. For information on a tour in French or Spanish, please email qdegroot@saveellisisland.org

I’m coming to Ellis Island with a large group. Can we take the tour together?

Our tours are limited to 12 prepaid guests, and additional walk up guests first come, first served. We may however be able to make special arrangements for your group with 14 days notice. Please contact Save Ellis Island at 201-332-8485 to discuss your needs.

Is the tour accessible for people in wheelchairs and those who need assistance to walk?

Ellis Island’s south side buildings are over 100 years old and have not yet been restored or updated to current standards. Walking surfaces are uneven in places and visitors will have to climb some stairs, so much of the tour will be very difficult for people using crutches or canes. No ramps are yet available, so we regret that the tour is inaccessible for people using walkers, wheelchairs, powered scooters or those with significant mobility issues.

I have limited time. Is it possible for me to take half of the tour and walk back to the ferry on my own?

No. Visitors must be escorted by a Save Ellis Island guide at all times while on the south side of the island. Out of respect for other visitors in the group, we can’t stop or modify the tour to accommodate individual requests.

What do I do if I miss my tour time?

It’s very important for all guests to arrive on Ellis Island at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled tour time and present yourself to the SEI guide working at our information desk. Our tours are limited to 14 persons per tour and sell out months in advance; as a result, we regret that we may not be able to accommodate your party if you arrive late.

Can I buy tickets to the tour when I get to Ellis Island?

Yes. Tour tickets are available through Statue Cruises, the National Park Service’s ferry concessioner to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Tickets may also be purchased on Ellis Island and are generally available for all tours. On island ticket sales are on a first come first served basis.

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