Note on the Image

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M8.    Ellis Island by Moonlight, circa 1900

Standing in New York’s harbor, Ellis Island—named after Samuel Ellis, a New York merchant who owned the island in the 1700s—was the metaphorical crucible from which these immigrants tumbled before heading out to till fields, toil in factories and build businesses in pursuit of the American Dream. Ironically enough, the island affords a fine view of that beacon of American freedom, the Statue of Liberty.

The Ellis Island Immigration Station opened on Jan. 1, 1892. The first immigrant admitted was 15-year-old Annie Moore, who emigrated from County Cork, Ireland, with her two brothers to join their parents in New York City. She was one of nearly 700 people processed that first day, and among about 450,000 ushered through that year.

By the time Ellis Island shut down in 1954, more than 12 million immigrants had passed through its gates. Today, the island is home to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which chronicles the stirring story of how those huddled masses yearning to breathe free achieved that hallowed dream.

This diagonal shore line provides a strong pull into the picture and the distant horizontal band acts as a balancing element of the picture. The use of strong diagonal, the mast of the ship pointing the top of the building creates the circular composition.

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