John Rogers: Ellis Island


Storyteller: John Rogers, USA

Broken window at abandoned hospital on Ellis Island

What compelled you to create this photo books?

The photos are the result of spending about 9 hours on a tour of the abandoned hospital at Ellis Island with Nikon and its ambassador Joe McNally. A rewarding experience which taught me about a place that myself and many others were unaware of its history, a time and a place where kindness and caring for humanity were so different than the current politics allow for today. I was compelled to gather some of these photos into a book after so many friends and family asked about my experience. I had mentioned to a friend that I couldn’t very well print them all. I do not have the room to hang them, although I have framed two of my favorites. My friend was the one that suggested a book and also suggested your website.

Derelict room at abandoned hospital on Ellis Island

What is your favorite image in the book and why?

Most of my friends love the images where the Statue of Liberty is framed by a window and I suppose that would have to be my favorite as well. I imagined when I was there that such a welcome image that could be viewed by immigrants being cared for in a country they did not have much knowledge of was important to them.

Derelict room with mural of immigrants at abandoned hospital on Ellis Island

What is your favorite story behind a single shot in the book?

An important story regarding many of the photos in the book is the story behind the caricatures that adorn many of the walls within the hospital. One of the kind and knowledgable Save Ellis Island volunteers explained to me that these were painted by an artist after they realized that images such as these would be comforting to patients that came to the hospital. They had to be apolitical in nature and not denoting any one class of people.


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