BallinStadt - Port of Dreams
As I walked the two blocks from the Veddel S-Bahn stop to the BallinStadt Emigrant Museum in Hamburg, I stopped in from of the first sign and felt tears welling up in my eyes. As I stared at the boats and other signs along the past to the entrance of emigrant families, it hit me: this is where, in 1859, John and Dorothea Passel and their 5 children, ages 3 - 19 left for a new life in America and where, in 1884, Maria Strassheim Tross took her 6 children, ages 11 months - 9 years, and 3 pieces of baggage and set off to meet relatives in Buffalo, New York. I was standing in the place where they last saw their homeland of Germany, filled with hope, but nervous about the strange new land they would soon embark upon.
BallinStadt is a set of three reconstructed buildings, located on the Elbe River's Veddel Island, where the Emigrants Halls once sat. Although what my ancestors would have seen would have been much different, since these buildings were not build until 1896 - 1907, the exhibit has information from 1850 until the present day. Building number 1, actually the last building you come upon, is the entrance and also holds a multitude of computers with free access to Ancestry.de. This allow patrons to search for their ancestors in records which include the Hamburg passenger lists. Being in German, I could not do any research, but I did get a shot of the passenger list with the John Passel family.