From 1892 to 1954, over 12 million immigrants entered USA through the portal of Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Most were processed and allowed into the country. Those who were thought to be sick or disabled, around 1 million in total, were sent to the massive hospital complex on the island's south side.
In the Contagious and Infectious Disease Hospital, the immigrants were treated for deadly diseases like diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles and whooping cough. Surprisingly, the most frightening diseases were not necessarily the most likely to stop an immigrant from entering the country. If an immigrant survived diphtheria, he or she would return to the immigration process. It was the people suffering from less serious conditions -- maybe a bum knee or bad back -- who would be sent home, because they couldn't work.
Most doctors and nurses who worked in the hospital at Ellis Island lived there as well. Safety procedures appear to have at least partially worked to protect staff. Though approximately 3,500 people died on Ellis Island, that included no staff members who contracted diseases from their patients.
The renowned french artist JR paste giant reproductions of old photographs inside the abandoned hospital on Ellis Island. The photos show the immigrants who came through the island as well as doctors and nurses who worked there.