What percentage of immigrants went through Ellis Island in the old days?

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?

Ellis Island:

(All these data taken from http://www.nps.gov/stli/serv02.htm#Ellis):

Immigration legislation became a federal issue in 1890; before that, it was a state domain. The Ellis Island immigration station was opened in 1892 and shut down in 1954; in those 62 years, more than 12 million immigrants entered the US via this portal. I guess there were other federal immigration stations as well ( a Google search yields a lot of replies for Angel Island, California).

This site, however, says:

[quote]
From 1892 to 1954, more than 16 million Southern and Eastern European immigrants, or 71% of all immigrants, entered the United States through the federal immigration station on Ellis Island and two connecting islands in New York Harbor.