Before the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island there was Castle Garden. Most people believe that if their ancestors arrived through the port of New York that they arrived through Ellis Island. However, if your ancestors immigrated before January 1, 1892 and arrived through the port of New York, they would have had to go through Castle Garden. Located at the tip of Manhattan on what is known as the Battery is America‘s first official immigration center.
Between 1850 and 1892 over 8 million people from all parts of the world passed through this place looking for a better life in this land of opportunity. Each day hundreds, if not thousands of people passed through these doors. More than one in six native-born Americans are descendents of the 8 million who arrived at Castle Garden.(Kimberly Powell, About.com Genealogy Guide Castle Garden) Most of these immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, Russia and Denmark.
Castle Garden closed in 1892 due to the opening of Ellis Island. It later housed an aquarium and then faced demolition in the 1940s. The plans to demolish it were shelved due to public outcry however, and it sat vacant until the National Park Service took over operations in 1975. It is now known as Castle Clinton National Monument and is where tickets for ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are sold.