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Take a Tour of Ellis Island Without Leaving Your Home

By Irene Plagianos | October 16, 2015 3:55pm | Updated on October 18, 2015 4:02pm
 The long abandoned Ellis Island hospital complex buildings are now on view in a new virtual tour.
The long abandoned Ellis Island hospital complex buildings are now on view in a new virtual tour.
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National Parks Service

LOWER MANHATTAN — Get a tour of Ellis Island without leaving your couch.

The National Park Service launched a free virtual tour Thursday of the historic island’s south side — a less traversed part of the island, home to a complex of buildings that once included a hospital and ward to treat sick immigrants before they were allowed to enter the U.S.

The tour allows interested parties to scan through 360-degree views of the island and its buildings, primarily on the south side. Visitors to Ellis Island can only see those buildings through a scheduled hard-hat tour, and aren't allowed to roam freely through the buildings.

More than 40 interactive photographs, created with detailed 3-D scans of buildings, both inside and out, and landscapes, were used to create the virtual trip.

As users click through the sweeping views, and wind through interiors of dilapidated hospital rooms, they can also click on historic facts and photographs, and detailed close-ups.

From about 1892 until 1954, Ellis Island was the country's busiest immigration hub. The island's south side treated contagious diseases, along with more mild sicknesses and mental health problems.

While most were allowed to officially immigrate into the U.S. after they recovered, some were forced to return to their home countries, the Park Service said.

The virtual tour was released to help bring more attention to the complex of buildings, that have been stabilized, but not restored. Much of the old interiors, and old furniture, have fallen into disrepair.

“These buildings and spaces are of paramount historical importance," said John Hnedak, deputy superintendent of the Park Service. "The stories they tell are an integral part of the Ellis Island saga — we are thrilled to be able to make this extraordinary virtual experience available to the public.”

Save Ellis Island, the island's nonprofit partner is dedicated to the protection of the south buildings, and runs reservation-only tours of several of them.

Head to the National Park Service website to access the free tour.