New New Jerseyans: Immigration Through The Years

Gone are the days when Ellis Island was a major point of passage for many immigrants, but New Jersey's tradition of embracing diversity continues unchanged.


National Geographic Society.

THEN: From 1892 through 1954, an estimated 12 million immigrants, originating predominantly from Europe, were processed at Ellis Island—many bound for New Jersey. When the federal government took over administration of the island around the turn of the 20th century, it began expanding facilities to include medical buildings, dormitories and a cafeteria, above. When this photo was taken in 1920, Ellis Island was experiencing increased immigration after a wartime lull. Soon, misguided nativist policies such as the Quota Laws and the National Origins Act sought to restrict immigration from countries in Southern and Eastern Europe. Other ethnic groups had already been restricted under laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.


Photos by Colin Archer/ANJ.

NOW: Ellis Island no longer serves as an entry point for immigrants, but the melting pot remains alive throughout New Jersey in places like the Little India section of Jersey City, below left, and Palisades Park, where the thriving Korean presence is evident on Broad Avenue, right. Census data shows that the Hispanic/Latino population of New Jersey has increased nearly 40 percent since 2000, and the Asian population now comprises almost 10 percent of total residents. Vibrant ethnic communities have sprung up all around New Jersey, providing dense pockets of diversity that bolster the Garden State’s proud history as one of the nation’s most demographically varied states.

Click here to leave a comment
Click to enlarge images
Read more Historic Jersey, Jersey Living articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.