We are heading off to visit New York City this coming weekend and it got us to thinking about all of the iconic things we would see there… Federal Hall, Wall Street, Central Park and of course, the Statue of Liberty. There she stands; guarding New York Harbor; a testament to our country’s heritage as a land of immigrants.
How to visit the Statue of Liberty
You can see the Statue of Liberty National Monument from Manhattan but to get right out to it, you have to take a ferry – either from Battery Park in Manhattan or from the other side of the river on Staten Island. We took the ferry from Staten Island and it was surprisingly not that crowded, even though the Statue of Liberty is one of New York City’s most popular attractions.
It is just a short ferry ride, with great views of the New York skyline. We began our visit at the Statue. When you stand at the bottom, wow is she huge. The statue is just over 305 feet from the ground to the torch. Her nose is over 4 feet long! It is hard to imagine how big the Statue of Liberty is until you go out there and stand below her, looking up.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France, given to the people of the United States as a symbol of friendship. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and became a National Monument in 1924.
You can go up into the statue, but you will need to get tickets in advance. There is a really good museum at the base of the statue. The displays there are really interesting – lots of great photos and fun facts. Did you know that there is 62,000 pounds of copper and 250,000 pounds of steel? That’s a lot of weight! And the flame is covered with 24k gold leaf. Gorgeous!
One gallery shows the design and construction. That is really interesting. At the time, this was to be the tallest statue in the world. But think of the challenges they had building this and transporting it to New York in the 1880’s. Statues in that day and age were typically built of stone or marble or bronze, but these materials were too heavy. That’s why they came up with the idea of using a thin sheet of copper – just the thickness of 2 pennies.
The museum also displays the original torch. It looks tiny from the ground, but when you get up to it you will see how very large it is. It makes you feel very small!
Once you finish at the Statue of Liberty, you re-board the ferry and go to Ellis Island. This was the processing point for immigrants coming into the United States. Over 12 million immigrants passed through its doors between 1892 and 1954.
Along with interesting stories of the immigrants and their families, one of the neatest things at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is that you can look up your family name and see if your family entered the United States through Ellis Island.
There are also records of where the immigrants were sent; put on trains heading for places like Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa … places they knew nothing about unless they had families there; places where they would be making a new life for themselves.
There is also a display of passports and a wall of photos. It is very emotional to see all of the people – so many different names, ages and nationalities. They all came to America to make a better life. The displays at Ellis Island really bring to life the trials and tribulations they went through to get here. It reminds you of our history as a nation of immigrants and makes you reflect on how immigration shaped the future of this country.
Need Help Planning Your Visits?
If you would like to explore this or other National Park Units, but need a bit help in the planning, please give us a call at (480) 609-3978. We are happy to offer customized trip planning.