Proposals made in 1995 to use it or replace it with a new bridge for pedestrians were opposed by the city of New York and the private ferry operator at that time.
Much of the island, including the entire south side, has been closed to the general public since 1954.
Largely created through land reclamation, the island has a land area of 27.5 acres (11.1 ha), most of which is part of New Jersey.
The 2.74-acre (1.11 ha) natural island and contiguous areas comprise the 3.3 acres (1.3 ha) that are part of New York.
On June 15, 1897, a fire of unknown origin, possibly caused by faulty wiring, turned the wooden structures on Ellis Island into ashes.