Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pack Your Camera and Head Down to the Statue of Liberty Before the Fall.

Last summer, the National Park Service announced that the Statue of Liberty would be closing for renovations this upcoming Fall. Mistakenly believing that it would be closing in the Spring, my roommate and I made recent plans to visit and ascend through Her inner beauty, all the way up to the crown. Although we chose a February morning to visit, and were prepared to be greeted with whatever form of clouds and icy precipitation Mother Nature would send our way, we were instead given a beautiful, warm (well, for February), clear day. As we rode the ferry towards the majestic symbol of our city and, for many, our nation, we tried to imagine what it must have been like for early immigrants to gaze upon her for the first time, after weeks of weary traveling.

Only 240 people are allowed in the crown daily, and tickets must be purchased well in advance, here. I recommend buying tickets for the crown at least a month or two ahead of time, especially if you intend to visit on a weekend, and you should also order reserved tickets even if you only want to visit the outdoor observatory pedestal (the crown observatory is indoors, but well worth it). Be prepared to be thoroughly screened by security officers at Battery Park, where you’ll board the ferry to Liberty Island, and then again before you enter Miss Liberty. If you are lucky enough to get crown tickets, you will be required to leave all personal items, with the exception of a handheld camera, in fee lockers at the base of the statue. 

Stairs to the crown.
At Liberty Island, you’ll be able to take in panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of New Jersey, from a wide variety of perspectives, depending on your ticket. Make sure you purchase the ticket that is best for you—consider whether you want to just visit the Island and its museum on the history of the Statue (did you know that Alexander Gustave Eiffel was pivotal in Lady Liberty's design??), whether you want to head inside the monument and glimpse some views from her pedestal, or whether you have the stamina to climb the 300+ stairs to the crown. No matter your vantage point, you surely will not be disappointed, provided the weather chooses to agree. However, if do you make it all the way to the top, at least you can cross that one off of your bucket list. The rangers were unable to provide a date when the crown and general statue access might re-open after 2011. Set aside 45min to an hour for the museum, and at least another hour for the climb up the winding stairs to the crown and back down, in addition to some time to just walk around Her. Your next stop should be Ellis Island, via ferry, but first consider grabbing a bite to eat at the only café on the Island (there is also a café on Ellis Island).

An immigrant recalls her arrival. 
At Ellis Island, you’ll have the opportunity to walk through the very same halls that may have been the first building your ancestors entered in the United States, if they came to New York between 1892 and 1924, riding third-class on a steamship (apparently first and second-class passengers were screened on the boat, while third-class passengers were shuffled toward Ellis Island for a more intense screening process). If you’re a history buff, you should allow at least 2 hours for the museum inside the Island’s main building. Follow the path of an immigrant as she or he was first processed on the Island, including medical screenings, literacy tests, psychological tests, and more. Despite all of these potential barriers, while some were forced to spend an extended stay on the Island before they were officially admitted into the United States, only approximately 2% of those who arrived were actually sent back to their countries of origin. If you happen to know the name of your ancestor(s) who came through Ellis Island, you may even be able to track them through computerized programs at the museum.

Try to start your day as early as possible, as it will surely get away from you before you know it, and make sure to note the ferry arrival and departure times to and from each Island and Battery Park.


  1. Next time I come into the city we have to go to the Rodeo bar. Love MOM

  2. Yes, MOM, it is a very fun bar. Sometimes there is dancing in the aisles. You would enjoy it.