Ellis Island is mostly in New Jersey, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, ordering New York to share bragging rights to the nation's gateway for millions of immigrants.
New York - which already lost the Giants and Jets football teams to its neighboring state - can lay claim to only 5 of the island's 27.5 acres, said the justices' 6-3 ruling.As a result, most of the island in New York Harbor from now on must be considered Ellis Island, N.J. "The lands surrounding the original island remained the sovereign property of New Jersey when the United States added landfill to them," Justice David H. Souter wrote.
At stake was more pride than money. The federal government actually owns Ellis Island, which was the first American soil walked upon by 17 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954.
The immigration center has been restored as a museum visited each year by thousands of tourists who travel to the island by ferry.
Today's ruling largely upholds a court-appointed fact-finder's recommendation to divide the island between the two states, with New York getting about 5 acres including the main building and New Jersey getting the rest.