May 11, 1909
From: George B. Billings, Department of Commerce and Labor, Immigration Service, Boston, MA
To: Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D.C.
In a letter from George B. Billings, Department of Commerce and Labor, Immigration Service, Boston to the Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D.C. on May 11, 1909, Billings explained the results of his investigations to find a suitable location for an immigration station. He included a description of the current immigration process in Boston, comparing it to the process used at Ellis Island and gave his pro and con opinions of which process would work best in Boston. A portion of that letter stated:
"One of the great advantages Boston is supposed to have over New York - - and one which is widely advertised by the steamship companies of this port, is the fact that incoming passengers are not obliged to go to one central point like Ellis Island. To illustrate this point, for instance: Passengers arriving on incoming vessels at the port of New York - - this is, steerage passengers - - after arrival at the dock are conveyed on barges to Ellis Island, entailing quite a delay in procuring baggage and being conveyed across the bay to the Island. After passing the inspection on the Island those passengers who are discharged and destined to Western points must be again transported on these flatboats, or barges to the various railroad docks. Not only does this consume a great amount of time, but it is not at all relished by the passengers. Here, the conditions are deemed much better. Upon the arrival of a vessel at Boston the steerage passengers are landed at the dock, inspected, and those detained given a hearing before the Board of Special Inquiry. Those still detained by the Board are conveyed to the Immigration Station at Long Wharf, while those admitted either at the primary inspection or at the first Board hearing, walk out into another part of the steamship dock where they receive their baggage and directly proceed to the city proper or suburbs, excepting those passengers bound for the West. These, right there on the dock are placed aboard special trains, or cars, as the occasion demands, regulated by the number of people, and proceed directly to the West."
Letter from George B. Billings, Department of Commerce and Labor, Immigration Service, Boston to the Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D.C. on May 11, 1909, accessed NARA, Northeast Region, Waltham, MA, August, 2008.