Ellis Island - What to know before you go


If the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are on your "must see" list when visiting New York City, there's a few things you'll need to know to prepare and get the most out of your trip. Most importantly, this is an all day activity so don't try to squeeze in other sightseeing adventures. You will spend a lot of your day waiting in line for things and most of these lines will be outdoors so dress appropriately for the weather and for doing a lot of standing/walking. Unless you've purchased your tickets in advance online, when you get to Battery Park you will first wait in a long line to purchase tickets. By the time we got ours, the Statue of Liberty museum and crown tour were already sold out so this post is going to just focus mainly on Ellis Island. Once you've got your tickets in hand, you'll then queue up again to go through the security check-point. If you've got large bags or luggage you won't be allowed on the ferry so plan accordingly. I didn't bring my camera on this trip because I didn't want to deal with the security hassle of carrying around my large camera bag. I apologize if some of the photos in this post are poor quality; they were taken with my cell phone. Be prepared to take off jackets, sweatshirts, sunglasses and remove all wallets and everything else from your pockets. It all goes through an x-ray machine and you will have to go through a metal detector as well. The website claims the security screening is airport level but this was even more thorough in my opinion. I never have to take my watch off when going through airport security and this security screening was far more crowded and chaotic. It did take quite a while because it was a cold day and people had to take off all of their layers and then put them back on again to go back outside and wait on another line for the ferry. 

Once on the ferry you'll either find a seat or you might have to stand if all the seats are taken already. If you're on the upper deck it will obviously be very windy so if you want the view then bring an extra jacket or sweatshirt. The lower level of the ferry does serve food in case you're hungry from standing in line all morning, otherwise you can also get food at the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.

View from upper deck of ferry
The first stop will be the Statue of Liberty. Passengers will be let off here and then another group of people who are waiting in another line to go to Ellis Island will be let on the ferry. We didn't get off here because as I mentioned, it was sold out and we both have already been to the Statue of Liberty before. Just note that if you don't get off before the Ellis Island stop, the ferry does not go back to the Statue of Liberty on the way back to Battery Park. This is the only stop it makes at the Statue of Liberty.


Once you finally get off at Ellis Island you'll probably need to use the restroom. If you're a woman, be prepared to wait another 30 minutes in another line since there's only two toilets in the women's restroom on the main floor. The men's restroom line, as always, moved slightly faster. If you can't wait 30 minutes, I'd recommend taking the elevator up to the 3rd floor restrooms. 

You might be a little tired before you've even started touring the museum. This is why you need to be prepared and pace yourself. This museum is deceivingly large. We started by picking up our headsets for the audio tour. The audio tour is included with your ticket price. We were directed to start the tour upstairs on the 2nd floor. The tour then leads you from one small room to the next. Some of the rooms were crowded and it was difficult to see the exhibits. Much of the audio tour was reiterated in the exhibit text so it was a bit redundant and I found it distracting to try to listen and read exhibit labels at the same time but I did enjoy a lot of the oral histories and personal stories of the passengers which was not part of the exhibit signage. At a certain point, I had to switch off the audio tour because it was taking way too long to listen to the audio and then read all of the signs and there would have been no way I would have been able to see the whole museum in just one day!



This part of the exhibit (in the picture on the right) was about the chalk markings that immigration officials used to indicate the health status of arriving passengers. They would use chalk to write on passengers' coats. The letter represented various illnesses that might determine if a passenger was sent home or made to stay in the infirmary before being allowed to officially enter the United States.

The picture below was part of a display on the 3rd floor that showed photos and illustrations of many of the ships that sailed from all over the world bringing immigrants to Ellis Island.


This display (below) was both interesting and amusing to me because my husband is currently applying for his citizenship. These are booklets about "How to become an American citizen" as well as literature about Citizenship classes. Maybe I should send him to Citizenship school!
                                    

At first, I didn't realize there was a whole 3rd level to go through and was already suffering from museum fatigue but everything was so interesting and I was determined to see it all. I thought we had seen the entire museum, only to realize that the ground floor had a huge exhibit that took up half the space. We didn't notice it because we were directed to start the tour upstairs so make sure you don't miss it either. It's a fairly new exhibit called the Peopling of America Center which opened in 2015.

View of part of the ground floor exhibit space


One of the most interesting parts of the experience for me was the opportunity to look up family members in their database at the American Family Immigration History Center. If you have known ancestors who came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1957, you might be able to find them in the database. I paid $7.00 for 30 minutes access to a computer. This wasn't a ton of time but the great thing is that you will get an additional 90 days to complete your research using your own computer at home which will give you access to the database. So I didn't quite find what I was looking for when I was at the Immigration History Center but I continued my search when I got home and I think I found my Great Great Grandfather on this ship's manifest! I don't think I'll have any way of knowing for certain if this is really him but based on stories from my grandmother, I think there's a good chance. 


My grandmother's maiden name was Davis. She said her family got that name because her grandfather, David Wolff emigrated to the United States from Russia and when he got to Ellis Island, they couldn't understand his English and inadvertently changed his name to Wolff Davis. This is in line with many of the stories from other passengers. While there were interpreters staffed at Ellis Island, so so many dialects of different languages were spoken that it was sometimes difficult to accurately record people's personal details and mistakes did happen. This one in particular left my Great Great Grandad with the first name Wolff for the rest of his life! 



He's listed on line 27 of the ship's manifest (above). It says his last place of residence was Naniokst but when I looked it up, I couldn't find any information on a place by that name. If anyone has ever heard of it please let me know. His nationality was Russian and his Port of Departure was Liverpool. He was single and 26 years old when he arrived on November 26, 1904. Under the "Occupation" column, it says he was a Locksmith. It also said he would be staying at 616 West 46th St. with a person named Father James Parker. 

The Baltic
This is the ship that my Grandmother's Grandfather sailed on to come to America. I cannot express how excited I was to find out all of this information. I know very little about my ancestry and it was so amazing to find this little piece of family history. 
If you have time left before getting back on the ferry, make sure to visit the American Immigrant Wall of Honor outside overlooking the NYC skyline. It's a national monument featuring individual and family names celebrating the immigrant experience.

There's so many places to see and things to do when in New York City. It can be difficult to get to all the things on your must-see list but being prepared with some local knowledge and insider tips will definitely help. I hope this post about Ellis Island will help you get the most out of your sightseeing adventures.

New for Spring

I've been busy updating my store with some fresh new listings for Spring. Now you can save money when you purchase my most popular illustrations as sets. You'll save 10% and receive a combined shipping discount! This promotion is available exclusively through my store StudioKWN.
These print sets are great gifts for baby showers, birthdays, Mother's Day, housewarming or just a great way to spruce up your home decor. To purchase or find out more information just click on the link below each image.






I've also added some new photography to the shop. These are some photos I took on my most recent adventures. Freshen up your home decor by adding some new art to the walls. I'll be updating the store with even more prints and photos in the coming weeks so be sure to visit often.







Tearing Down To Move Forward

Change is good and New Orleans is taking steps toward a more positive future by tearing down four prominent Confederate statues honoring white supremacists. The first statue, an obelisk honoring members of the Crescent City White League who killed the members of the city's post-Civil War integrated police force, was removed yesterday, April 24th, 2017.

In the next few days, statues commemorating Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard as well as Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy will possibly be moved to a museum although their final destination has yet to be determined.

A few months back I wrote a post about my visit to Beauvoir, the former home of Jefferson Davis which is now a National Historic Landmark and museum. Davis's wife left the homestead to the Sons of the Confederacy so it's not government owned property. However, when the original home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, they were granted federal funding from FEMA and given donations to rebuild while thousands in Mississippi were left homeless. If you read my post, I think you'll be able to surmise that I would have preferred they let it crumble to the ground and maybe even replace that memorial to our country's hateful past with something that can instill hope and positivity in people. 

There's still an estimated 700 Confederate statues or monuments installed in public places throughout the United States. How about we follow New Orleans's lead and tear them down. Why not support local artists by commissioning new street art and replace them with statues of historical figures who brought about positive change in this country like Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks? 

A great example of a city that is supporting art with positive messages is New York. The "Fearless Girl" statue was installed facing the famous Wall Street Bull statue on on March 7, 2017-the day before International Women's Day. The statue which was created by Kristen Visbal was only meant to be a temporary installation but there was such an outpouring of positive support for the "Fearless Girl" that its permit was extended from one month to a full year. 

We can't erase the past and people will certainly not forget but we can determine how we act in the present and moving into the future. I personally would prefer that future be filled with art that makes me feel happy.

United Airlines in the news again!

In case you haven't watched the news or youtube or gone on social media or spoken to another human in the past week, United Airlines is the topic of conversation again and not for a good reason. They forcefully dragged a 69 year old man named Dr. David Dao off of one of their flights because they needed the seat for one of their crew members. He was a paying customer who was already seated on the plane and did not want to voluntarily give up his seat so they had airport security violently remove him from the plane. I'm not happy that this happened to this man but I'm not at all surprised (and maybe feeling a bit smug) after my personal experience with flying United. You can read my post about it here: United Airlines

My experience with this airline was abysmal from start to finish. Every single department had horrible customer service to the point where it seems that they train their employees to be purposefully rude and obnoxious to their customers.

I choose to no longer give them my money and will fly with other airlines even if they are the cheaper option. In two weeks I'll be flying to New York on Delta which I've had my gripes with in the past but they've really made the effort to turn things around and become a decent airline. After flying around the world several times on more airlines than I can count, I can say with absolute certainty that United is the worst of the worst and I'm pretty sure Dr. Dao would agree with me.

United passenger dragged from plane has concussion, broken nose: lawyer | Reuters 

United faces more questions as dragged passenger hires high-powered attorney - Chicago Tribune

New Work

It's been a very long time since I've updated this site with any of my personal work. Finally, a long overdue feature of some of my most recent artwork. To find out more information about a piece or to purchase a print simply click on the "More info..." link in the item's caption.
black and white astronaut illustration
This is a digital illustration I created of an astronaut. Prints are available in sizes 8x8 and 10x10 inches. More info...
Pop art style astronaut illustration by Kim W. Nolan
 I had some fun with color, taking the black and white version and making a pop art style print. 
Also available in 8x8 and 10x10 inches. More info...

Bird silhouette wall art by Kim W. Nolan
I created this series of bird silhouettes using a combination of both digital photography and illustration. More info...
Butterfly silhouette wall art by Kim W. Nolan
I decided to use the same process to create this lovely butterfly. You can purchase each one separately or buy them all and display them as a group. More info...

Love heart art print by Kim W. Nolan
This is a pastel drawing I made in celebration of Valentine's Day but the sentiment works the same for engagements, anniversaries, weddings or any expression of love. More info...


Painting of Emperor penguin with penguin chicks under an arctic night sky with aurora borealis by Kim W. Nolan
I just finished this one. This imaginary scene popped into my head one day and I just had to paint it. I created it using a compilation of different images for reference and inspiration. More info...


Woody car and Kombi mixed media art by Kim W. Nolan
I added this mixed-media painting of a Woody Wagon to my Road Trip series. 
I'm hoping to add another painting to this series soon. More info...


Dog Cat and Mouse chase watercolor paintings by Kim W. Nolan

This adorable little mouse was the last piece in this series of paintings I call, "The Chase." The dog, cat and mouse are each sold as separate prints. They work well alone or purchased as a set. More info...
Toy robot colored pencil drawing by Kim W. Nolan
I really enjoyed drawing this toy robot. Sometimes I like to switch things up and put down the paint brushes so I used colored pencils to create this image. More info...

Rubber ducky colored pencil drawing by Kim W. Nolan
Here's a process shot of another colored pencil drawing I did of a rubber duck. More info...

Bear painting Wolf painting Deer painting Woodland creature series watercolor wall art by Kim W. Nolan
Back to watercolor painting here. I added a wolf and a deer to my woodland creature series. 

World map watercolor painting in blue, purple, and pink by Kim W. Nolan
I love to travel. I love to paint and I paint what I love. Here's a print of my watercolor world map for my fellow nomads who've caught the wanderlust bug. More info...

The Mystical Arts of Tibet

The Mystical Arts of Tibet - Mandala Sand Painting

This past weekend I attended the annual ArtsFest in Stuart, Florida which took place in Downtown Stuart Memorial Park. After visiting all of the booths, I decided to go to the Quilt exhibit at the Court House Cultural Center which is also located right in Memorial Park. I wanted to share with you this fascinating mandala sand painting exhibit that was going on simultaneously in the gallery. I watched the Tibetan Monks as they painstakingly laid millions of grains of colored sand to create the mandala. The patience and detail required by all the monks to work together to create the final piece was both impressive and mesmerizing.

                                                             Watch with sound ON


The final result of all that patience and precision culminates with a unique and exquisite work of art that is then wiped away and destroyed by the monks in a closing ceremony. This is a traveling exhibit so even though you can no longer see it a this gallery, make sure you do if it comes to a town near you. It was a really beautiful process to experience.