A visit to the iconic Statue of Liberty was a planned highlight for my recent New York City adventure. The following is useful information on how to most effectively visit Lady Liberty and what to avoid (and a little history of her too).
I was one of those unfortunates who waited last minute to purchase tickets. Because the official website was sold out for the entire week of my visit, my brother and I traveled to the South Ferry Terminal in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan and purchased some from a street vendor (always a seedy way to do things). Our tickets were $35 per person for the 1-hour ferry tour around the island, with no stops at Liberty Island or Ellis Island.
Make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to buy your ticket, as I did. Purchase tickets in advance either online or through the official ticket office in Berry Park’s Castle Clinton. If you want to visit both Liberty Island and Ellis island with crown access in the statue, the online cost is $21.50 per person.
The vendors we dealt with -who can be identified by their purple jackets- were very polite and friendly. They did not, however, tell us that we needed $2 per person each way for the shuttle in cash. If you are going through a street vendor, remember shuttle money! Also remember tip money, as the announcer on the ferry is very good and deserves it!
I would recommend taking a morning trip, because the afternoon sun is brutal on the way to the statue. The ferry left 20 minutes late, so make sure to budget extra time if you have a strict schedule.
And now to the fun part:
“Liberty Enlightening the World” (the official name) is awe-inspiring. Designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to resemble his mother, the lady’s copper layer is as thick as two pennies together and as blue-green as the sea. Symbolism is the name of the game.
The broken chains around her feet represent the end of oppression. The torch in her hand, enlightenment. Her 7-pronged crown stands for the seven seas and continents.
Frenchman Edouard de Laboulaye first proposed this statue as a gift to the United States, to commemorate the Declaration of Independence and the alliance between France and the United States during the Revolution, with the overarching celebration of Freedom. He hoped that the attention drawn to the achievements of the U.S. would encourage the French to establish a democracy of their own. (1)
Funding for the statue was the responsibility of France, and they relied on entertainment and lotteries to raise the money. America’s part was the granite pedestal, and they hosted art exhibitions, theatricals, and (in true American fashion) prizefighting to get enough cash.
The statue arrived in 1885, with 214 crates containing 350 pieces. President Grover Cleveland dedicated her in October 1886. (2)
Nearby Ellis Island was an immigration station for years. Its proximity to Lady Liberty contributed to the statue being a sign of hope for immigrants to the New World.
She is also the last thing millions of soldiers have seen on their way to war on foreign soil.
Liberty Enlightening the World will hold a firm place of reverence in any patriotic heart. Enjoy, and do so smartly!
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