Expat - New York · Nth America

Our trip to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Yesterday we went on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour. This is one of the first big tourist sites we have actually visited since moving over.

We advance purchased our Statue of Liberty with Crown access.


Our ferry departed from Battery Park at 1PM and arrived at Liberty Island. It didn’t seem like it was a very long ferry ride… but I can’t really remember exactly how long it took as we sat up top in the -2 degree plus wind so my brain felt like it had frozen. It could have taken an hour for all I remember.

The ferry ride, despite the weather, was great. From the back of the ferry you could see the city skyline and from the front you could see the Statue.

NYC Skyline
Statue of Liberty & NYC Skyline
Statue of Liberty

Once we arrived we made a bee line towards the audio tour desk to pick up our headsets. From there we headed to the flagpole where the tour started.

The audio tour was a great way to help explain everything about the Island. There were brown signs next to various items with numbers which you pressed into the audio tour handset that then explained what that item was.

We visited the museum first which provided a lot of history. It held a lot of artifacts, such as a face which was the actual size of the one on the Statue, a display of how the facial features would have been made in their casts, the advertising used to help fund the build, etc.

The original torch on the Statue
Another view of the original torch
Miniature Statue of Liberty
Face of the Statue, true to size
How Statue features were made
What’s inside the Statue
An example of advertising which help raise funds for the Statue

After we were done in the museum we headed up the Pedestal which provided a better, elevated view. There were 215 total steps from the lobby to the top of the pedestal (I got this info off the website, not by counting each step).

View of the city – Pedestal level
View of the grounds of Liberty Island – Pedestal level
View of the flagpole – Pedestal level

Then we ascended a tight 146 spiral staircase to the Crown. Walking up the steps just felt like walking around in a small circle, which was quite dizzy-ing. There was no elevator access and all I could think about was how thankful I was that we weren’t doing this in summer as the climb was quite a heart-rate, body-temp increasing experience.

Part of the spiral staircase to the Crown

Once we arrived at the top, the space was a tight squeeze and the view was as good as the Pedestal level but it was limited due to the tiny space and windows which opened up only slightly.

Inside her Lady’s head (not my image)
View of the torch from one of the tiny windows in the Crown

Descending from the Crown was easier than the climb but was still a dizzy-ing experience. I thought it would be fun if there was a slippery slide down as that would make it fun.

We then lined up to catch the ferry to Ellis Island which was again, not a long trip.

Welcome to Ellis Island

And again, once we docked we headed straight for the audio tour desk to pick up our headsets. The first thing we were told on the audio was that due to Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, Ellis Island was flooded and was still being restored to its previous glory. There was still a lot to see, but a lot of the artifacts were missing from various spots.

An original trunk brought over by one of the millions of immigrants
Trunk after trunk
BOYCOTT. A General Boycott has been declared upon all CHINESE and JAPANESE Restaurants, Tailor Shops and Wash Houses. Also all persons employing them in any capacity. All Friends and Sympathizers of Organized Labor will assist us in this fight against the lowering Asiatic standards of living and of morals. AMERICA vs. ASIA Progress vs. Retrogression Are the considerations involved. By order of Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly and Butte Miners’ Union (a notice from a Montana union to try and rally American workers for a boycott against Asian businesses)

Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the US and was the country’s busiest immigrant inspection station between 1892 and 1954. I found the Chinese Exclusion Act exceptionally interesting because it isolated just one race in particular to be prohibited to enter the country. The Act also lasted 61 years which seems like such a long time.

But then again, I am now living in the country where not that long ago, black people were traded and it was common place to have them as slaves.

Moving on –

My favourite part of the day’s trip was our visit to the Great Hall on Ellis Island. I loved the open space, how tall the room is, and especially the tiled ceiling.

Ceiling of the Great Hall
An American flag with only 47 stars
One of the original chandeliers in the Great Hall
Benches in the Great Hall which immigrants sat on while waiting
Windows in the Great Hall

I would class this as a must-do when visiting New York because this tour covers so much history. I would say the Pedestal access is worthwhile but not necessarily the Crown. It’s just good bragging rights for us to now say ‘we have been up in the Crown of the Statue of Liberty.’

Exiting the Main Building
The Ellis Island Cafe
View from Ellis Island towards the Statue of Liberty

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