Ellis Island is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. To get there, now as in the past, you have to take a boat. And while there is no charge to enter the museum, the boat company is not similarly generous.
A seasonal ferry operates until late November from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. Year-round, the Circle Line ferry operates from Battery Park (just west of the Staten Island Ferry) at the foot of Manhattan. The South Ferry subway station drops you off about a three-minute walk from the spot. Boats leave Battery Park for the 15-minute trip to Ellis Island every 30 minutes. The round-trip fare is $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 to 11. For more information on the Battery Park boat, call (212) 269-5755. For information on the Jersey City boat, call (201) 435-9499.
Boats are large, but Ellis is increasing in popularity, and a visit in the winter will probably be less hectic than during the peak summer months.
For those wanting an illustrated look at Ellis past and present, two excellent books are available. Both "Ellis Island, Echoes From A Nation's Past" (Aperture, $39.95) and "Ellis Island" (Contemporary Books, $35) capture the spirit of this most unusual place.