It wouldn’t feel right to visit the island of Manhattan and never see the water. The Statue of Liberty is a tourist destination that seems more than just a selfie opportunity. Visitors flock to the monument as a source of America’s heritage and the welcome invitation she presents to the world. Generations of citizens descend from the immigrants who first saw this beacon of hope from a distance when immigrating to this country. I wanted to join in the pilgrimage to Lady Liberty while in its presence instead of relying on the second-hand observations of my mind’s eye. It is an image that has been portrayed countless times in my life through history textbooks, movies, and popular media.
While visiting the Statue of Liberty was a meaningful journey that I wanted to partake, the price tag on the ferry trip didn’t seem to be worth the short distance for us just to ride a ferry. Ferry service to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is only available through “Statue Cruises” at just under $20.00 each.
https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/ferry-tickets “The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation” Statue of Liberty National Monument “National Park Service”
We didn’t necessarily need to climb Liberty’s stairs to her crown or visit Ellis Island, even though many people were boarding the ferries for that experience. We were content with getting just close enough to the water to glimpse the Statue of Liberty from a distance.
Through online research, I found that the Staten Island Ferry is a passenger route that actually passes by the Statue of Liberty on the five miles from Manhattan to Staten Island. What is most surprising about this ferry route is the fact that it is free of charge. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with more frequent service on the weekdays every 15-20 minutes. New York commuters and tourists ride the 25 minute passage from one island to another. http://www.siferry.com
As we entered the Manhattan ferry station, we simply walked through the turnstiles tallying our entry and followed the masses up the steps to a single set of doors. We stood with the crowd waiting for the next ferry, curious to see if we needed to check-in with someone for a reservation ticket. In just a few minutes there was no time to ask before the double doors opened and the crowd slowly inched forward. We boarded the ferry as a herd and made our way up to the top level.
The distinction between tourists and commuters was quickly evident when groups of people cluttered to the decks and others found a place to sit and pop in their earbuds for the next 25 minutes.
I was definitely in the tourist category so I stepped out onto the deck to see where we were headed despite the chilly wind that tempted me to duck inside.
I watched the buildings go by as we left Manhattan and embarked on our journey. The suspense slowly grew as we got closer to the speck of green. I thought about what it might have been like for the people leaving their home countries to see the first sight of green in the distance and feel a still sense of happiness. Birds swirled over our heads completing figure-eight dives the length of the ferry as if they were aiming right for us. Our lady in green finally appeared and the tourists gathered excitedly to take their group photos with the statue standing tall in the background before we passed her by.
The wind was a brutal enemy so the most of spectators tucked inside for the remainder of the voyage. The ferry conductor walked the boat levels notifying all passengers that we were to exit the ferry and re-enter if we would like to take the next return trip to Manhattan.
Since I had already taken my Statue of Liberty photos in the midst of the tourist crowds, Derek and I sat together to watch the green speck reappear from a lower level on our way back. The Lady of Liberty was just as beautiful from the naked eye as she was through a camera lens.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
(Emma Lazarus, 1883)
National Archives: “Child Migrants coming alone to America”
Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island “Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress”
Immigrant Number One “New York Magazine’
The Statue of Liberty was Originally a Muslim Woman “Smithsonian Magazine”