Thing to Do

Tour the Hospital Complex

A black and white photograph of an immigrant sitting near an old bed rack in the hospital.
A historic reflection of an immigrant visiting a patient inside the Ellis Island Hospital.

If you are planning on spending an afternoon on the island, consider taking a guided tour through the unrestored hospital area known as the Infectious and Contagious Disease Ward. These 'South-Side' buildings are normally closed off to the general public, but you can make a reservation to tour them when booking your ferry tickets. The "Hard Hat Tour" will give you an insight on where immigrants would have stayed for long periods of time when they were not healthy enough to enter the country.

Walking tour is 90 minutes in length.

Visit the unrestored buildings on Ellis Island's 'South Side' through a Hard Hat Tour administered by Save Ellis Island Inc.

All participants must be 13 years of age or older. Participants under the age 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times during the tour.

The tour costs $53 for adults and $49 for seniors. This price includes the ferry and audio tour for both Liberty and Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is only accessible by ferry.

Reservations are made through Statue Cruises and are for a specific time and date. Be aware that there are many restrictions to this tour, and it is the participant's responsibility to be aware of and adhere to the rules. Save Ellis Island reserves the right to refuse entry to the tour or remove any participant who does not comply. Tour participants must stay with a Save Ellis Island guide at all times. Unauthorized entry of areas off the guided tour will be considered trespassing. Violators will be subject to arrest and prosecution. Each participant must wear a hard hat, which will be provided by Save Ellis Island for use during the tour. Each participant is to sign a waiver before taking this tour, and anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent/guardian sign the waiver for them.

Tours will be held regardless of the weather; except in cases of extreme cold, heat or forecast of significant snow/ice. Save Ellis Island will make every effort to notify participants within 24 hrs of cancelling tours due to weather.  The buildings are not climate controlled and participants must be properly dressed for weather conditions in New York Harbor on the day of their tour. This may include rain, snow or wind. In extreme weather, the National Park Service may close the island early or for the entire day, requiring cancellation of tours.

When purchasing the tickets, participants will have to select a specific time. Times vary throughout the year depending on hours of operation.

Accessibility Information
  • The unrestored buildings do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at this time. Participants must be able to climb stairs. We regret that visitors with wheelchairs or scooters are not permitted on the tour at this time.
  • Participants should expect to be on their feet for 90 minutes.
  • Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, and high heels are not permitted.

Ellis Island Part of Statue of Liberty National Monument

Visit the unrestored hospital complex on Ellis Island! Administered by Save Ellis Island Inc., this 90-minute tour takes visitors through select areas of the 750-bed hospital on Ellis Island. Some highlights of the tour include visiting the laundry building where over 3000 pieces of laundry were washed and sanitized daily. Visitors will also have a chance to see the infectious and contagious disease ward, the kitchen, staff housing, and the morgue. An art exhibit “Unframed – Ellis Island” created by renowned artist JR will be on display throughout the hospital complex. The exhibit features life size historic photographs of Ellis Island immigrants installed on 16 interior walls.

Last updated: January 27, 2021