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Sometimes the father would come alone—to see if the streets really were paved with the gold of opportunity—before sending for his wife and family.Sometimes the eldest son immigrated first and then sent for the next oldest, until the entire family was in America.
Unfortunately, the laws were almost impossible to enforce and steerage conditions remained deplorable, almost beyond belief.
As late as 1911, in a report to President William H.
There were three types of accommodations on the ships that brought immigrants to America: first class, second class and steerage.
Only steerage passengers were processed at Ellis Island.
Even though the average cost of a ticket was only $30, larger ships could hold from 1,500 to 2,000 immigrants, netting a profit of $45,000 to $60,000 for a single, one-way voyage.
The cost to feed a single immigrant was only about 60 cents a day!
Often those who arrived first would send a prepaid ticket back home to the next family member.
It is believed that in 1890, between 25 and 50 percent of all immigrants arriving in America had prepaid tickets.
It is, however, almost impossible to relate such a combination of overwhelming circumstances to the experience of one immigrant, or even of one family.
Although more than 12 million people passed through Ellis Island on their way to the promise of a better life in America, they walked through its gates one at a time, individual by individual.