The huge Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was presented by the people of France to the people of the United States to honor the friendship between the two nations.
Ellis Island became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. Both islands are administered by the National Park Service. Officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World but familiarly known as the Statue of Liberty, America’s famous symbol of freedom can be viewed from any of several cruises or helicopter tours and the Staten Island Ferry. You can also visit the islands via the Statue of Liberty Ferry, as part of a comprehensive Manhattan tour or in combination with classic open top double decker bus tours of New York. You can visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island along with 40+ other New York attractions and tours with the New York Pass.
Tickets to actually visit the islands can be purchased from the National Park Service at Castle Clinton in Battery Park on the south western end of Manhattan or Liberty Park on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor. To avoid long ticket lines scroll to the bottom for Statue of Liberty Ferry tickets and combination tickets with other top NYC attractions. You will be able to look inside the statue and walk onto the statue’s observation deck but not enter the Statue of Liberty or climb to the torch although those restrictions could change in the future. Begining July 4, 2009 visitors chosen by lottery are admitted in groups of 10 to the crown (not the torch) at a rate of about 30 visitors an hour. Visiting the crown will necessitate climbing 168 narrow steps and it is considerably hotter inside the statue compared to outside temperatures— latest information.
When you visit Liberty Island you can walk around the base of the statue, though you are really too close for a good view of the sculpture. Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye first suggested the idea for what was to become the Statue of Liberty in 1865. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people in France gave the United States a great monument as a lasting memorial to independence and thereby showed that the French government was also dedicated to the idea of human liberty?”
Without the help of the French, America probably would not have won its freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution nearly 100 years earlier. The upcoming centennial would be an appropriate time for such a gift. Sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi not only designed the statue but traveled to the U.S. to promote the idea of a joint effort between America and France where the American people would design and build the pedestal, and the French people would build the Statue and assemble it in the United States.
Bartholdi chose Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor as the site for the statue since it was where many people got their first view of the New World.
Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel — who later designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris — designed the intricate skeleton for the statue. The Statue of Liberty was constructed using a technique — known as repoussé — for creating sculptural forms by hammering sheet metal (copper in this instance) inside molds. If you’ve ever wondered how tall the Statue of Liberty is (151′ 1″ or 46.05m top of base to torch), the length of its nose is (4′ 6″, 1.37m) or other statistics such as the weight of copper (31 tons) or steel (125 tons) used in the sculpture a full list of Statue Statistics is available.
Although you can no longer climb all the way to the Statue of Liberty torch, you can view the structure from the inside when you tour the island. While on your tour you can view exhibits that explain the repoussé process, a full size replica of Lady Liberty’s foot and face who’s solemn features reflect the neoclassic style popular at that time. Financing for the statue and its base were a challenge, especially in the United States. Joseph Pulitzer, a young newspaper publisher, took up the task and $100,000 was raised in small donations from over 120,000 people including schoolchildren and African Americans whose contributions were for a monument that would, in part, commemorate the end of slavery.
The right arm and torch were on display in Madison Square Park for six years in another fund raising effort. They were also displayed at the 1876 International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia along with a fountain by Bartholdi which is now in the United States Botanical Garden in Washington DC. You can view this earlier version of the torch when you enter the base of the statue.
The base for the Statue of Liberty was designed by Richard Morris Hunt an American architect trained at the architectural section of École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. “Hunt’s Beaux-Arts training led him to compose a pedestal deftly embellished with classical elements and appropriate in scale to carry the 151-foot goddess. He created an 89-foot-high, four-sided fortress of liberty, built of giant blocks of rusticated Connecticut granite and lightened on each face with an open loggia framed by square Doric columns, recalling Thomas Jefferson’s belief that the American republic demanded classical simplicity in architecture. Near the foot of the pedestal, Hunt placed 40 circular shields meant to carry the coats of arms of the 40 states.”
At a dedication ceremony on October 28, 1886 President Grover Cleveland accepted the Statue of Liberty on behalf of the United States. A line of a poem written by Emma Lazarus has come to symbolize the meaning of the statue for Americans: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” although it was hardly noticed at the dedication. Liberty State Park is less than 2,000 feet from the Statue of Liberty on the New Jersey Shoreline. The area was once a major waterfront industrial area that included the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. After being processed through Ellis Island many immigrants boarded trains to their new homes throughout the United State from here.
Avoid the long lines, get your tickets in advance.