The 29 in Ellis

Christopher Gillespie's avatar Christopher Gillespie Vote Code: 68246

In the early 20th century Immigrants from all over the world traveled by steamship over many days and thousands of miles to Ellis Island. As the 3rd class passengers descended from the boats and felt land underfoot, they soon would face a twenty-nine second exam by the health department. If they failed, they were faced with walking this long grueling hallway to determine their fate. They knew not what was at the end of the hallway or the outcome of their “American Dream.” They endured twenty nine seconds of hell to determine whether they had made it to freedom. Those that failed were brought to large wards to be with those who had similar illnesses. If the health officials deemed it necessary they would separate husbands, wives, sisters and brothers from one another as well. Imagine sitting in a crowded room filled with unfamiliar faces and being treated as another number within the cesspool of germs, sweat and tears. Wondering if they would ever see their family again and mustering all kinds of emotion. Those who were critically ill would be sent to an isolation ward where they might have been too weak to express anger, but likely harbored guilt, frustration, emptiness, and defeat. Just twenty-nine seconds and then the sentence. For some it would be death. But for others who had traveled great distances, they would hang onto the hope that they could conquer the illness and enter this new society, as they hung on to the “American Dream.” Indeed, Lady Liberty stood tall beckoning them outside the window, luring them into a space of hope that had propelled them to seek this new life. Freedom was close, yet so far away.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 1 inch
  • Medium: Photo
  • Width: 23 inches
  • Year created: 2018
  • Height: 30 inches