Since 1990, tourists from across America and around the world have known Ellis Island as both a historic (and ethically problematic) gateway to the US and the home of an immigration museum that everyone who grew up in the Tri-State Area has visited at least once on a field trip. But there’s more to the island than the shiny restoration that’s open to the public. How to Be a Retronaut points us to Paul Margolis’ darkly illuminating series of photos, taken in 2002, that document the neglected south side of the island. “These buildings served prosaic and often sad purposes: they were the wards and medical facilities,” Margolis writes. “They had a haunting beauty, with their subtle, almost monochromatic colors: greens and rust, old brick and peeling plaster.” See the Hidden Ellis Island photos after the jump, then visit Margolis’ website for more of his work, much of which focuses on Jewish identity and life in and around New York City.
Patient room, maternity hospital
Corridor, hospital wing
Stairs, administration building
Doors, quarantine wards
Casement window and courtyard
Ferry terminal building