First Norwegian immigration exhibit debuts at Ellis Island

NEW YORK -- A royal gala event at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum last month, attended by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway and former Vice President Walter Mondale, who spoke on behalf of Norwegian-Americans, opened the first major exhibit celebrating the contributions of Norwegian immigrants to New York City.

"Norwegians in New York 1825-2000: Builders of City, Community and Culture" will be on display at Ellis Island for a total of six months.

The Norwegian Immigration Association (NIA), an all-volunteer organization established in 1996, raised the $500,000 needed to produce the exhibit.

The first Norwegian immigrants arrived in New York harbor on Oct. 9, 1825; the exhibit was timed to coincide with the 175th anniversary of Norwegian immigration to the U.S.

The exhibit spans six rooms and includes memorabilia of the large Norwegian community that developed in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The Bay Ridge community of Norwegians grew to 200,000 residents at its peak in 1950 and was the largest urban settlement of Norwegians outside of Norway.

The exhibit also documents how Norwegian immigrants played a major role in engineering and building some of New York's vital infrastructure and most famous landmarks.

The Norwegian-Americans honored included:

  • Ole Singstad, who engineered the four major tunnels: the Holland Tunnel; the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel; the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and the Lincoln Tunnel.
  • Carl Eger and Niese Poulson, who designed and built the double iron staircase inside the Statue of Liberty.
  • Sverre Dahm, who designed the New York City subway system.
  • Erling Anderson, who helped engineer and build the George Washington Bridge.
  • Sister Elisabeth Fedde, who founded the Norwegian Hospital in Brooklyn, now Lutheran Medical Center.
  • The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc.
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    Norwegian Immigration Association Exhibit

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