Ellis Island


When, almost three years ago, I found out that my husband and I had to move to New York, I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like a sign of destiny to us. There is a common thread that ties us to the United States.

My husband spent some years in Washington, D.C., during his studies, and I was so lucky that I could come to visit him several times during that period. Also, the maid of honor at our wedding was already living in New York when we moved into town. But the thing that excited us the most was the fact that, exactly 110 years before, in 1909, my husband’s great-grandfather came here, from a small village in Italy, seeking his fortune.

The very first time we visited New York as tourists, in 2009, we did almost everything that a regular tourist does. We visited the major attractions of the town, standing in interminable lines, but the moment we were on the ferry toward Ellis Island, our emotions grew strong. The view of that little island, which figured as a gate to enter a Promised Land, must have been such a relief to the immigrants of that time.

On the island, we searched the name of my husband’s ancestor in the archives, and, with great excitement, we found it. I couldn’t avoid trying to put myself in his shoes. Who knows what kind of excitement and hopes he might have had on seeing Lady Liberty for the very first time? What kind of feelings or fears he might have had approaching Ellis Island, where, after a very long trip, he would have to wait to know if he would be allowed to enter the country?

Obviously, when we arrived in The Big Apple, we didn’t experience what he did. The city has changed a lot since that time, and so have the people, but many immigrants are still struggling coming to the U.S. Even once they are in the country, there are a lot of things they have to care about, and it is not ever easy.

The reason we moved here is because of my husband’s job. He works at the Italian Consulate. This makes me think that every time he helps an Italian immigrant cope with his or her own Ellis Island, it is like he is helping his great-grandfather.


''Francesca Ligas writes: “I’m from Rome, Italy. I moved to New York in November 2019 because of my husband’s job. I love the diversity and energy of this city. My writing began with a diary about my new life here. Through English classes, I enjoyed writing even more. I’m attending University Settlement’s Adult Literacy Program and taking illustration classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I love traveling, art, and nature.”