New York City is not called the Big Apple for nothing. With thousands of different attractions to see, each moment on the streets is an experience for all the 5 senses. If you are new in town, you cannot go without experiencing the magic of Ellis Island. Here’s a complete guide to the Statue of Liberty!
The History of the Statue
As many people know, the statue was a present from the French government to the America as a symbol of freedom and liberty, arriving at the New York Harbor in 1885. However, there is an opposing school of thought and many argue that the statue was instead a commemorative present to celebrate the end of slavery after the American Civil War. It is also further suggested that the model for the Statue was, in fact, an African American woman.
The Statue was built with hundreds of fine copper sheets and it was a dull brown color at the time of creation. However, due to years of weathering and oxidization, it slowly turned into the green color you see today.
What to Expect
If you’re visiting for the first time, you probably have no idea how to go about exploring the Island, the Statue, and the Museum. You will have to take a ferry to Ellis Island, where you can either book a free tour or explore by yourself, for which an audio guide is great.
Let us share you what else you can expect on your first visit.
Stairs to Climb
Despite what it might look like, the Statue of Liberty is not cast in solid bronze. The construction of the Statue allowed Americans to build a staircase to the crown of Lady Liberty, and climbing that staircase can be a chore. So wear comfortable shoes and expect some exercise!
Like you, thousands of others want to see Lady Liberty up-close and personal too. Be ready for plenty of people from around the world crowding up the Island and Museum. If you would rather have individual attention from the tour guide, go early morning before people wake up!
Plenty of Things to See!
If you think a couple of hours would be enough to explore the Statue entirely, think again. There are a number of places to see including the Island and the Museum, so allow at least 5-6 hours for the visit. The Statue of Liberty tour alone will take 2-3 hours—get to the ferry two hours before the tour starting time to ensure you aren’t late.
Things to Do At the Statue of Liberty
You may be wondering what people do when they go to Ellis Island. Are you supposed to stare at the statue and come back?
Because it is the hottest tourist spot for Americans and foreign nationals alike, there are plenty of fun activities created just for you. Here are some you might enjoy.
Park Rangers Guided Tour
Throughout the day, Park Rangers conduct guided tours in the English language. Starting at the Flagpole, the visitors should expect standing or walking around for at least 35 minutes and learn more deeply about the history and symbolism of the Statue.These tours are free and anyone is welcome to join!
Visit the Pedestal
You’re visiting for the first time, but we are sure that you’ve heard of the famed pedestal. Designed by famous architect Richard Morris Hunt, the pedestal is made to complement rather than overwhelm the Statue. Unlike the Statue itself which was a gift, the pedestal was paid for by the American people. It is almost half the height of the entire statue, giving tourists great views of Ellis Island and the entire city of New York as well. You can also see New Jersey and the NY Harbor. If you visit the pedestal, your ticket will let you go to the Liberty Island Museum as well.
Go for the Crown
The 20-story climb to the top of Lady Liberty’s head can be worth it. You can see the original torch display, the museum, and panoramic views of the surrounding cities. Expect to walk up at least 162 stairs to reach the top of the crown in a confined space—there is no wheelchair access or other kind of accessibility.
Visit the Liberty Island Museum
The museum, which opened up very recently in 2019, tells the story of the struggles and triumphs experienced by the two countries. There is an immersive theater experience and several artifacts for you to see, including the original 1876 torch which was replaced with a new one in 1980. Visitors can express what liberty means to them through interactive panels.
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration chronicles the stories of 12 million immigrants who passed through these halls during 1892 to 1954. To find a better life for themselves and their families, they immigrated to the US in search of the American dream. At this museum, you can hear their stories and honor their sacrifices.
We can tell you all about the magic of a place, but you have to experience it for yourself to truly understand what the fuss is about. So book your ferry ticket today and head over to the Statue of Liberty!