Throughout the years, I’ve heard countless stories of hapless immigrants sailing into NYC with nothing but the clothes on their backs. These tales are told so often that they almost start to sound cliched.
Needless to say, I was suprised to find out that my own great-grandfather didn’t have that experience. In 1876, at the tender age of 2, he and his family sailed straight into Philadelphia, and most of my family remains in PA to this day.
So what percentage of immigrants back in the old days (let’s say pre-WWI) actually entered through Ellis Island? Could Europeans come into the country through any port on the Eastern Seaboard? Did folks sail from Europe to, say, Georgia or South Carolina?