Is it really worth it going up to the Statue of Liberty?
And I mean go up through the 354 steps taking to the so-called “Crown”.
It’s a question I answer to every time I am asked about New York and specifically about the excursion including the tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the island where the immigrants waiting for passing the checking to enter the United States of America were “welcomed”.
What’s my answer?
Absolutely yes. And not for the view of Manhattan and the bay – definitely limited due to the Crown – but for the emotion and the magic to enter physically the symbol of New York par excellence (even if it is located geographically in New Jersey), silent witness of its history and evolution for over 130 years.
Then not to mention the presence of Lady Liberty in cult movies and TV series over the last 60 years.
What about some titles?
Planet of the Apes, The Godfather I and The Godfather-Part II, Splash, Armageddon, Superman IV: The Quest of Peace, Titanic and TV series like True Blood and Fringe.
Unforgettable for me the Ghostbusters II scene where the protagonists give life literally to the Statue with a magic mud, so allowing the Statue of Liberty to walk, with even lighted torch and music, through the New York streets.
“The liberty illuminating the world” – the official name of Lady Liberty – has been watching over the entrance of the Manhattan Bay for 131 years, by now.
It was given – divided into 1883 cases and transported with many difficulties and sinking through a series of daring voyages overseas – from France to the United States to commemorate the centenary of the American Independent Declaration, and it was opened officially on October 28th 1886.
It was realized by the frenchman Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who created for the outside sheathing a “light” cover made of 300 shaped copper sheets which then successively had to be soldered to the well more complicated inside steal framework planned by Gustave Eiffel, the engineer of the Tour Eiffel.
Lady Liberty represents a woman with toga – maybe the personification of the Roman Goddess Libertas –who holds in her right hand the eternal flame – symbol of liberty – and in her left hand she holds a book: on its cover the date of the American Independence – July 7th 1776 – is engraved in Roman numerals.
On her head there’s a crown with 7 tips representing the 7 seas, the proud look turned beyond the ocean towards the strict and conservative Europe. And under her feet there are the broken chains of slavery.
The Statue of Liberty is 46meters high – 93 calculating the base – and it can be seen from the Atlantic Ocean even from 40km far.
For this reason it has represented for decades the first great face of America for the immigrants arriving from Europe after the long and difficult overseas voyages.
“It always happened that at a certain point someone lifted his head…and saw it.
We were over thousand on that ship, among very rich people travelling and emigrants, and odd people, and we…And yet there was always one, only one, one person that as first…saw it.
Maybe he was there while eating or walking simply, on the deck…maybe he was there fixing the trousers…he lifted his head for a second, had a look at the sea…and saw it.
Then he stopped just there, the heart started beating strongly and, always, every damned time, I swear, always, he turned to us, to the ship, to everyone, and he shouted (quietly and slowly): America.”
(Alessandro Baricco – Incipit/Novecento)
For the face profile, Bartholdi was inspired by his mother Charlotte’s one.
The Statue of Liberty weights 204tons, has a 35meters waistline and feet almost 8meters long. It was calculated that for sewing its long toga it would be necessary 3500meters of fabric.
From 1886 until 1902 Lady Liberty worked as Lighthouse to make the entrance of the ships into the bay easier.
In origin the color of the statue was red-copper, a shade that due to the oxidization caused over time by saltiness turned into that water green we know today.
In the beginning it was possible to go up as far as the pier neighboring the torch and enjoy a one-of-a-kind view in the world of New York, the ocean and the New Jersey. However, in 1916 following an act of sabotage, the passage was definitively closed, limiting the access only to the Crown.
On the pedestal in the first 1900s a sonnet by the female poet Emma Lazarus was engraved.
Wrongly many people think it, too, refers to the freedom from the slavery, but actually it was inspired from the miserable life conditions of the immigrants who stayed in Ellis Island waiting for entering New York City.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp – cries she [the statue] with silent lips.
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-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
To go up to the Statue of Liberty is necessary to purchase the tickets on the statuecruises.com official website well in advance.
Reckon that the access to the Crown is limited and the admittance request is always very high.
Through the booking display select the option “Crown Reserve Ticket”, use the red button BUY.
Choose your leaving gate between Battery Park (New York) and Liberty State Park (New Jersey).
On the following window click on the age and on the number of the participants and on the icon of the calendar to indicate the date chosen.
Go through with the payment (21$ adult for the Crown, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour) putting your data.
Remember to print or keep on the Smartphone the purchase confirmation which will arrive via email.
Go at least half an hour before the time of your tour to the ticket office of the scheduled embark point to convert the booking confirmation into the paper tickets and then wait for going aboard the Ferry.
The Statue of Liberty will be the first stage of the tour.
My tip, just arrived to Liberty Island, is to go through the little museum at the feet of the base to see the original Torch of Lady Liberty replaced with a golden copy in 1986, leave your stuff in the proper locker, do the usual checking (remember to take with you the passport) and go up immediately to the Crown and enjoy the moment for at least 2/3 minutes alone (the space is very narrow) and the view once arrived on the top.
Once went down you can enjoy calmly from the pedestal the view of the statue itself and of Manhattan.
The second and last stage of the Ferry is Ellis Island.
The ferries berth at the Liberty and Ellis Islands quays every 20/25 minutes, so you can decide to explore the two sites totally calm without worrying about time.
Coming back from Ellis Island remember to take the Ferry to Battery Park if you go towards NY or Liberty State Park if you go towards the New Jersey.