Repair and Stabilize Ellis Island’s Seawall Project

Construction on Ellis Island as seen from the south side of the island. The seawall is seen in the foreground, in the background are construction cranes and the main building of Ellis Island.
The construction on Ellis Island's Seawall will continue through 2023.

NPS photo

What’s Happening?

We are repairing and stabilizing approximately 6,000 feet of seawalls that surround and protect Ellis Island. The work involves major repairs to the granite and concrete that comprise the walls. In addition to these repairs, the project will also be adding reinforcement on the land and water sides of portions of the island to further stabilize and strengthen the wall. Lastly, the project will replace the timber pile fender system and make other repairs to the ferry slips.

Why Are We Doing This Project?

Much of the seawall around Ellis Island is now more than 100 years old. A century of pressure from waves, as well as storms in New York Harbor, has damaged and begun to destabilize the concrete and granite masonry. Since most of Ellis Island was created by landfill and is therefore not a natural land feature, the seawall is needed to actually hold the island together.

As you take the ferry to and from Ellis Island, you may notice many places where the granite blocks that make up the face of the wall have become displaced, or even fallen out of the wall entirely. In addition to this obvious damage, there are less visible concerns, including cracks and voids in the concrete that allow soil from Ellis Island to wash out into the harbor, undermining the land of the island itself.

While the walls are not in danger of immediate collapse, these structural problems have accumulated and compounded over the decades. This project is a large-scale effort to repair all these issues at one time and restore Ellis Island’s protective seawall into excellent condition so that it can continue to protect the island and all it contains for the generations to come.

How Will This Impact Your Visit?

While we are repairing the seawall, there will be noise and construction activity around nearly all of the landscape at various times. You are likely to see large construction equipment around the island and in the water nearby. There may be short-term temporary closures of parts of the perimeter walkways as work progresses. Pile driving activity in the water adjacent to the island may be very noisy in some areas of the landscape during your visit. Ferry dock locations and queuing areas may be relocated during parts of the work.

Throughout the construction, Ellis Island and the National Museum of Immigration will remain open to visitors throughout the duration of the project.

When Will This Happen?

Construction is underway right now. The work is scheduled for completion in February of 2023.


Last updated: May 8, 2021

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Ellis Island Receiving Center
Statue of Liberty National Monument

Jersey City , NJ 07305


212 363-3200

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