Ellis Island – The Lost Mural & Portraits of Famous Immigrants

Hidden away in the immigrants’ dining hall of Ellis Island from 1938-1954 was a 190-foot long mural created as part of the Works Progress Administration, entitled “The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America.” The dining hall was a place never visited by the public, but millions of immigrants to this country passed through its doors over the years and sat beneath the artistic scenes left by mural creator Edward Laning.

In 2003, artist and muralist Andrew Sabori and his wife visited Ellis Island while tracing his family history and stumbled upon a small photograph of the original mural as part of the exhibit about Ellis Island. None of the staff was able to tell them about the mural, prompting the Saboris to begin a research project that would take them to Princeton, Julliard, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and even to visit the original artist’s widow looking for more information.

In 2008, after several years of research and finally finding photographs of the mural and even a few surviving sections in a Brooklyn courthouse, the Saboris decided to reproduce the mural on a smaller scale as an educational tool for students. And that’s just what they did – creating 19 sections that total 90 feet in length. The recreated mural has been exhibited in a number of locations since 2008, including its’ last stop at the National Archives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Famous Immigrants:

The exhibit also includes portraits of famous immigrants and immigration documents from the holdings of the National Archives. Featured immigrants include Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo, Albert Einstein, Stan Laurel, Greta Garbo, Harry Houdini, Enrico Fermi, Desi Arnaz, Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, Alexander Graham Bell and Rudolph Valentino.

About the Artist:

Andrew was born in San Jose, CA and grew up in San Francisco in the 1950’s and 1960’s He started painting at a young age and now has a portfolio of paintings and murals done over the past 45 years, many of them depicting famous people, places and things. Some include rock stars, actors and sports figures as well as Mexican and Italian scenes, railroads and a baseball stadium.

In his early years he did posters for the Fillmore West in San Francisco of rock groups such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Co. and Credence Clearwater Revival as well as the original Chili’s Restaurant and Joe DiMaggio’s restaurant.

Visit the artist’s website: andrew-sabori.com