Virtual Tour

Ellis Island entrance spherical image unwrapped
View of Ellis Main Building front and Hospital Buildings displayed as an equirectangular projection. This is what it looks like when a spherical image is unwrapped onto a flat plane.  View the virtual tour to see this image in its original, spherical, shape.

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

Virtual Tour Celebrates Two Anniversaries

In 2014, in anticipation of the Centennial of the National Park Service and the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the park staff began working with the NPS's Historic American Buildings Survey to develop a virtual tour of Ellis Island. The tour was completed and launched in late 2015. This virtual tour is primarily of the South Side of Ellis Island, the location of the historic hospital complex. These important structures are generally not available to the visitors. Explore this space virtually and see our buildings from a whole new point of view! Look behind the walls and windows of these historic structures to see how they were constructed and what the inside looks like today.

Take the Ellis Island Virtual Tour
This interactive virtual tour is a combination of high resolution spherical images, historical information, and historic images taken in the same areas decades ago, primarily of the South Side of Ellis Island. Also included are animated point cloud fly-throughs of Ellis Island as a whole. This virtual tour was created by the Heritage Documentation Programs.

Learn more about this Virtual Tour

The following are buttons on the control bar along the bottom of the virtual tour screen. From top to bottom, the symbols below appear from left to right.

Image of Button on Ellis Island Virtual Tour indicating Point Cloud Site

Point Cloud Site: Click to see Ellis Island as a point cloud, or set of data points.

Image of Button indicating Point Cloud Hospital Buildings

Point Cloud Hospital Buildings: Click to see Ellis Island's Hospital Buildings as a point cloud.

Image of Virtual Tour Button 03 that Shows/Hides thumbnails

Show/Hide thumbnails: Click to show or hide the strip of thumbnail images along the left.

Image of Button 04: Hide Show Site Plan--simple floor plan

Hide/Show Site Plan: Click to hide or show the site plan (map) in the lower right.

Image of Button 05: Open HDP Website-"http://" inside curved rectangle

Open HDP Website: Click to open the Heritage Documentation Programs' website in a new tab or window.

Image of Button 06: Hide Show information-"i"

Hide/Show Information: Click to hide or show historic information in window in upper right.

Image of Button 07: Share the tour-lines connecting dots

Share the tour: Click to share the tour via various social media platforms.

Image of Button 08: Show Hide help screen-"?"

Show/Hide help screen: Tips for navigating and using point cloud viewer; key for panorama icons and site plan navigation.

Image of Button 09: Hide Controls-four arrows pointing at center dot

Hide/Show controls: Click to hide the controls (buttons) along the bottom; click the center white dot to show the controls (buttons) along the bottom.

Image of Button 10: Historic Images-camera

Historic images: Click for a series of related historic images from the National Archives.

Image of Button 11: Site Fly-through-video camera in circle

Site Fly-through: click to view "HALS Fly-through of 3D Point Cloud of Historic Ellis Island, New York" on YouTube.

Image of Button 12: Main Hospital Fly-through--videocamera in circle

Main Hospital Fly-through: Click to view "HABS Fly-through of Historic Main Hospital Buildings at Ellis Island, New York" on YouTube.


Like the virtual tour? Visit in person

Reserve a Hard Hat Tour today through Statue Cruises and visit select areas of the hospital complex. Experience the south side of Ellis Island and the special art exhibit, "Unframed –Ellis Island," by renowned artist JR with a Save Ellis Island guide.

About the Heritage Documentation Programs
The Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP) administers the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the Federal Government's oldest preservation program, and its companion programs: the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). HDP conducts a nationwide documentation program in partnership with state and local governments, private industry, preservation groups, and federal agencies.

Documentation produced through these programs constitutes the nation's largest archive of historical architectural, engineering and landscape documentation. Records on nearly 40,000 historic sites, consisting of large-format, black and white photographs, measured drawings, and written historical reports, are maintained in a special collection at the Library of Congress, available to the public copy-right free in both hard copy (in the Library of Congress) and electronic (via the Web) formats.

Documentation also enters the Collection through mitigation activities as per the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and through competitions and donations. These records provide a permanent record of the nation's most important historic sites, contributes to wider recognition and appreciation of historic resources, provides baseline documentation for rehabilitation and restoration, and makes available materials for interpretation and illustration.

Last updated: April 22, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Receiving Office
1 Ellis Island

Jersey City, NJ 07305


212 363-3200

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