New York day 4: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I got up bright and early on the Wednesday morning and made my way down to Battery Park.  Despite my tired and jetlagged state, I still managed to notice how pretty it is down there.

I got onto one of the first ferries of the day and we set off for Liberty Island.

[Click on the photos for larger images]

Battery Park City

As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day with clear blue skies.  Not.  I’d been pretty upbeat about the cloudy skies up to that point but was really wishing for some sunshine!  Thankfully, the clouds began to part as I got onto Liberty Island and I decided to take a self-portrait of sorts.

You enter Liberty Island to the back of the Statue of Liberty.  On my way around to the front, I came across this interesting set of statuettes of people that were of importance to the Statue in some way.

Édouard de Laboulaye, Frédéric Bartholdi, Alexandre Eiffel, Joseph Pulitzer and Emma Lazarus

  • Édouard de Laboulaye conceived of the idea of the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World”, which is the official name of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Frédéric Bartholdi was the sculptor who designed and sculpted the statue.
  • Alexandre Eiffel built the iron skeleton that supports the statue.  (Of course,  he is most famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
  • Joseph Pulitzer popularised the project and raised money for the pedestal in the American Pedestal Fund campaign.
  • Emma Lazarus is famous for writing “The New Colossus”, the final lines of which are engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue.  The sonnet was commissioned as part of the efforts to raise money for the pedestal and you are sure to recognise parts of it: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

As I walked around to the front of the statue, the clouds parted and there was a burst of sunshine.  I was so pleased!  It didn’t last long but I was happy with the photos I got.

I learned quite a few interesting points about the Statue.  She is made of copper and weathering has turned her the green colour she is today.  There are 310 pieces of shaped copper that make up her body and the copper sheets are only as thin as two pennies.  Her torch represents enlightenment and the notion that law and reason develop through scholarly pursuits in democratic society. 

The seven spikes on her crown represent the seven continents and she gazes towards the old world, the world of emperors and kings.  The inscription on her tablet reads “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” which is the date the declaration of independence was signed (July 4th, 1776).

The cloak of the statue was meant to bring to mind the Roman goddess of liberty, Libertas.  Her feet are actually stepping forwards as if she might step off the pedestal.  This is to represent the idea of progress, moving forward, breaking the shackles.  Finally, her facial features show strength and determination.  Shoo!  I will never take the Statue for granted again!  This is such a rich source of idealism and symbolism – it really is amazing!

I then hopped onto the ferry again and went off to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was one of the best experiences of my whole trip by far.  Ellis Island is “the symbol of American immigration and the immigration experience” according to their website and while the Statue would have been the first thing immigrants saw as they entered new York harbour, they would have spent the most important part of their immigration experience at Ellis Island.

I spent a long time going through the full exhibition at Ellis Island, reading up on the immigrants’ experiences and the psychological and physical tests that they would have taken. 

Actual immigrants' luggage

As I walked up the stairs and into the Registry Room, I was quite awed and almost had tears in my eyes.  It was a strangely touching experience which was greatly enhanced by taking the audio tour that came free with my CityPass ticket.  By the way, if you ever have the opportunity, I’d always recommend taking audio tours.  You don’t have to listen to them if they are bad but they are often really informative. 

The Registry Room

The Hearing Room and samples of foreign currency that the immigrants brought with them

All told, the exhibition at Ellis Island is fantastic with loads of artefacts and pieces of real New York history.  They stopped using Ellis Island as the main facility for immigrants entering the US in 1954 but visiting Ellis Island makes it all seem so real. Don’t be tempted to miss it out!

24 comments on "New York day 4: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island"
  1. What a wonderful post - and your photos are sensational! Makes me want to go esp to Ellis Island (most of my family came through there to get to NYC, where I grew up)

  2. I remember doing this!!! Your photos are absolutely fabulous!

  3. Thanks for taking us with you. I love your tour of NY and look forward to the next segment!

  4. Wonderful's such a reminder of what our USA is all about. We often forget. Your photos are beautiful. Thank you!

  5. Fantastic post and photographs. They brought fond memories of various stays in NYC, always my favorite city. I learned a lot from this posting, thank you for such an interesting and informative entry.

  6. Roxi and I went on the Liberty/Ellis Island tour a few years ago and loved it. Ellis Island is so moving. I'm glad you got to see it, Emm!

  7. Thanks for taking me to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Wow, I like the photo,the Statue of Liberty. it is amazing!! You took wonderful, beautiful and impressive photos. I am so curious about your GOOD MEMORY or you took a note during the trip all the time? Just becouse your post described so detailed. Hahaha, would you mind sharing your photos taking skill or how to improve the memory?

  8. This is a great post! I love all of the good information you put into it! And, your photos are really very fine. The great info you put in your posts make your blog very interesting to read. Keep it up!

  9. I will have to stop reading about your trip to New York because it makes me want to jump on the next flight out of London and get there for a visit. When I eventually make it to NY you have given me plenty of ideas as some interesting places that I cant wait to visit.

  10. Hi there Em,

    thank you for your insightful post. It made for good reading!



  11. Nice. Maybe next year I'll go visit also.

  12. This series of posts on New York are most interesting, the part about Ellis Island in this post was particularly good. I agree with Gary, I want to go to New York now.


  13. A good read, glad you enjoyed your day.

  14. As always, Grazie EMM, you let me dreaming with you! Ellis Island, The United States began there. Drama, love, death, births, Immigrants, hope, The Hell and Paradise.

  15. My first visit to your blogs Emm. You did a great job of showing New York. I've only been once and had to just stay in the train station so I didn't see much at all. Your photos and your narration were a great way to see New York. Thanks for the history especially.

  16. Wow emm, what a great tour and the pictures were amazing. The luggage is really sad actually.

  17. Fantastic! I particularly like the statuettes of the people associated with the Statue of Liberty. I've only recently found out about Eiffel's association. It's amazing what you can learn from postcards. :)

    I've also only just found out that a) Emm stands for Mandy, and that you're Mandytjie on CMF Ads. I'm very slow on the uptake.

  18. @ Lidian: Hiya! That must be so amazing that your family came through Ellis Island. No wonder you have such a keen sense of history! I bet you have loads of stories.

    @ Lou: Why thank you! It is a great experience, isn't it?

    @ Elle: Hiya! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you enjoyed it!

    @ Carolyn: Thank you for your kind comments.

    @ Celeste: Oh how I dream of the day when I can refer to my "various stays" in new York City. I dream, I dream!

    @ JaPRA: I am glad too! It was just amazing.

    @ Chen Yin Tzu: Ha! My secret is exposed - I carried around a notebook with me the whole trip. That notebook is a sort of scrapbook for me now - a concrete keepsake of my awesome trip.

    @ Erin: Why thank you! And yes, i do hope to keep it up. :)

    @ Garry: You can't stop!! If it is any consolation, your blog gets me off my butt occassionally and out into London!

    @ Clinton: Why thank you! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  19. @ SA Expat: Hey! You have a groovy blog... Thanks for linking me!

    @ BBE: :) I see my work here is done then...

    @ Elliot: Yes, it was lovely!

    @ Italo: You have put it perfectly into words!

    @ Laura: Hi Laura! *waves* You have to go back! I would heartily recommend it!

    @ ChefL96: Hiya! Yes, I think the luggage could be sad but I think it has been donated to the museum and I think that for them, it represented their hopes, dreams and opportunities. But yes, I do see how it could feel sad.

    @ Harender: Thank you!

    @ Sheila: Ha! Yes, and it is our job to then teach the world! I liked the statues too - I spent a little while with them.

    Yup - Emm is for Mandy. :) And "Mandytjie" means "little Mandy" in Afrikaans. I used to be little, honest.

  20. Hello, I just wanted to leave a comment and say how wonderful your blog is. I've so enjoyed my visit reading your posts and looking at your pictures. You have a heavenly header too !

    Thank you for sharing and best wishes,

  21. Wow thanks Elise. Your blog is a great British blog and it is nice of you to say that. I took the photo for the header myself when I was on honeymoon in April 2002.

  22. I have been so sorry not to have made it to Ellis Island on previous NYC trips and it's at the top of my list when I return. So glad to get your enthusiastic recommendation!

    SofL pix are fabulous!

  23. I've been to NYC but never made it to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. Looks like it would definitely be worth my while if I ever get the chance to visit again. Your pictures are great--I especially love that first pic of Lady Liberty. I'm glad you had a good time and enjoyed yourself! Also, I admire you for being able to go around and navigate a new city by yourself... I could never imagine doing this (but then again I do have an irrational fear of being kidnapped, haha) so kudos to you!! :)

  24. @ Kathy: Really? You just have to visit next time you go, it really was one of the most worthwhile things I did on my visit!

    @ Slynnard: Ha! I don't know how I managed to do it but for 7 days I was super-tourist girl! Not too sure if I would want to do it again though - the next time I go to New York, i want to share it with Stephen.


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