It was the middle of spring on a sunny, chilly day. We boarded a boat to Ellis Island, the immigration inspection station, and donned our hard hats to tour through the “forbidden” part of the island: the hospital wing.
The place was in shambles, closed in 1930, and not opened to the public since then. Part of the hospital was even more damaged by Hurricane Sandy. In 2014, they started doing tours. The open quad felt slightly overrun. Inside, however, active decay. Rusty doors, creepy chairs and actual stalactites on the ceiling.
UNFRAMED is a project by JR installed in 2014, showing images of people on windows and walls.
As we continued our tour through the hospital wing of Ellis Island, through the contagious disease ward, operating rooms, the TB ward and even an autopsy amphitheater, the afternoon light pierced through cracked windows. Part of what we saw was life frozen — cupboards not yet emptied, desks and stools left in place.
Out the window of one of the isolation wards was a view of the Statue of Liberty. The irony wasn’t lost on anyone of the people who might never make it out of the hospital or to New York. One of my favorite rooms was a kitchen with an overhead awning with an upside down view of the Ellis Island ferry. The whole thing looked like a boat.