I’m sure most tourists to New York City would have visiting the Statue of Liberty on their list of ‘must-see’ destinations.
From Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty appears so much smaller than the image that has made appearances in so many films and been featured in so many tourism brochures. It was only when I boarded the ferry from Battery Park to Liberty Island that when we neared the landmark I was able to appreciate the full scale of the sculpture.
Created in 1886 and as a gift of friendship from the French to the people of the United States, Frederick Bartholdi’s incredibly large and impressive copper sculpture is recognised as a symbol of freedom and democracy. The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertus, the Roman Goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law upon which is inscribed the date of American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. It was designated as a National Monument in 1924.
I pre-booked our tickets ($25.00), to the Statue of Liberty from Sydney. When you book on-line, it gives you the times that are available to see the Statue as well as Ellis Island, the place where thousands of migrants went through immigration on their arrival to the USA. Because I was travelling during peak-season, the earliest time we could book the ferry to Liberty Island was 3pm. This is a little late in the day and if possible I would advise visiting the Statue earlier in the day to avoid a build-up of crowds.
Booking at short notice, I wasn’t able to buy tickets to enter the crown of the Statue however, I was able to obtain tickets to venture up as far as the pedestal; that part of the bi-partisan landmark that was built by the USA.
On the day we were a party of three. Arabella’s friend’s boyfriend’s cousin’s friend (try to keep up), was a 21-year old chap on a holiday in New York at his girlfriend’s insistence. Unfortunately, as soon as they arrived in New York the girlfriend moved on, leaving him all alone.
Arabella, being the friend of the girl whose boyfriend had a cousin with a friend in need, was contacted to see if she could spend some time with him. So Pete met us at the 9/11 Memorial and we walked to Battery Park from there.
I naively thought that because we had our tickets, we would walk onto the ferry just like walking onto any Manly Ferry. Wrong! While we could see the ferry, we had to find the end of the snaking queue to board and it went from the ferry through a permanent tent structure and so many metres beyond that I couldn’t see the end of the line. With so many people it looked like we would have a two-hour wait in the heat and full sun just to make it to the tent structure.
I found a security chap (there are many) and I showed him our tickets and asked if we had to wait in line at the end of the queue. He said, ‘I’ll let you in here’, and he opened a gateway short-tracking us to the tent structure. Inside the tent was security like LA airport security. It was, ‘Take off your shoes, take off your belt, take everything out of your pockets, put your cell-phone on the counter’, so once we had been through that we then formed another queue for the ferry. I was exhausted before we got there!
We made it onto the three-tiered ferry and were fortunate to have seats on the top level where you have an excellent view of the Statue as you approach and as you look behind you, the Manhattan skyline.
Liberty Island is one of the smallest islands on New York Harbour. Beautifully presented with landscaped grounds, the focal point can only by the Statue; however, while visiting the Island there are places where you can buy refreshments and there are even restrooms. On the day we were there it was heavily crowded and I found the crowds overwhelming.
I went through security (again) to walk up to the pedestal of the Statue and surprisingly, there weren’t that many people. You can take the elevator up to the pedestal or the stairs and while a large group of people queued for the elevator, I took the stairs and was the only person in the stairwell – bliss! I had to walk up about six flights of stairs and then I walked out onto the pedestal where you look up and suddenly realise the scale of the Statue; it’s enormous and it’s so hard to believe that something so weighty and large was able to make the sea-voyage from France to the USA all those years ago.
And, more incredibly, that it was assembled by workmen without the use of scaffolding (something so common in New York City today), and the workmen put together the Statue by dangling off ropes many, many metres off the ground.
I was so pleased to finally be in such close proximity of an iconic landmark I have known about for so long and seen in so many movies. I was disappointed we didn’t have time to visit Ellis Island but that’s just another reason to plan another holiday to New York.
Like all the world’s iconic landmarks, the Statue of Liberty is definitely worth visiting. It costs less than $25.00 and you can spend an entire day exploring Liberty Island, the Statue and then Ellis Island on the return journey. Pre-booking your tickets on-line will give you the opportunity to not only walk around the Island and climb to the Pedestal but perhaps also have the opportunity to view Manhattan from the Statue’s crown.
Statue of Liberty: Liberty Island, New York.