The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are American icons. For many of us Americans, they were the first two sites that our ancestors saw upon their arrival to this country and finding relatives’ names in the scrolls at the Ellis Island Museum, a touching experience to say the least. I recently discovered a third historic landmark that tells an equally important part of America’s immigration history…the Central Railroad Terminal of New Jersey.
On my previous trips to the Status of Liberty, I had always taken the ferry from Battery Park in New York. This time however, I found myself on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River and left from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The ticket office for the ferry is located within the railroad terminal, a beautifully restored piece of architecture standing on the waterfront. Once on the boat, the views of this stunning building are incredible. It is surrounded by the 1,200-acre Liberty State Park and faces the New York City skyline.
The building’s history is amazing, if lesser known than its famous neighbors. Approximately 2/3 of Ellis Island Immigrants made the train terminal their next stop, where they boarded trains to take them to other parts of America to start their lives. Later, during America’s railroad boom, the terminal was a stopping off point for New York commuters, who would arrive by train and board ferries to go to Wall Street and other New York locations. On September 11, 2001, the building served as a triage center for the attack on the World Trade Center. Today, the building is an amazing piece of history not to be missed.