This summer has been a spectacular experience of checking off life goals on my “live lovely list.” Some may call it a bucket list, but my live lovely list is not something I have to do because of my future end, but rather, experiences I wish to have now simply because I love living. Essentially they are the same thing, however, this list is not based on things I would regret if I never did them, but rather to experience even more of life right now.
For years I have wanted to meet Lady Liberty in person. Back in April, Matthew and I tried to buy tickets to the crown for Easter, but they were booked until August. If you are hoping to catch a spontaneous ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, then you should really plan ahead. Tickets to the island itself are easier to come by, but the tickets to the crown sell out up to six months in advance, especially for the warmer months. If visiting the Statue of Liberty has been on your list, then this quick guide for how to spend a day with Lady Liberty is for you.
The Statue of Liberty is only a 70 mile drive from my apartment. That’s right, only an hour and fifteen minutes away from home. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have not made this particular trek much sooner. Oh, but did it all work out beautifully! We had the perfect cool and sunny summer day on August 27th. I drove into the city all by myself (with Matthew as my alert co-pilot) and parked at a parking garage by Battery Park. Make sure you park at the parking garage along Battery Park as it is cheaper than the others surrounding it. I have never been to this part of Manhattan, even though it is the most famous. I was amazed by the beauty and peacefulness of Battery Park on a weekend morning.
To pick up your pre-ordered tickets (you will want to order your tickets ahead of time here) you will walk to Castle Clinton and stop by Will Call. Once your tickets are in hand and your time has approached you will make your way through security to the boat. This trip is surprisingly affordable. Because they limit how many people may visit everyday the crowd size is manageable and surprisingly peaceful at some parts of the trip. The ticket includes the journey and free visit to the Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island. It only costs a few extra dollars for the crown access. Before purchasing this extra adventure, make sure that you (and your crew) are fit enough to climb the 338 stairs to the top. It’s a tight squeeze and I would not recommend it for anyone with severe anxiety, fear of heights, or claustophobia. We still had some time to spare before our departure time so we walked by the infamous Charging Bull statue located in Wall Street. It is a four minute walk from the entrance of the Statue Tours and directly across the street. We drove by on our way and I knew I had to se it in person. I had seen the statue across all forms of media, but never imagined I would see it in person. The statue is quite a popular sight with tourists.
I had to strike the pose myself. (As well as every other female tourist that walked by.) Feeling powerful and mighty:In times like these the message of Ellis Island is more important than I can express. Since the beginning of the United States immigration has strengthened our country, yet has always been faced with fear, criticism, and hatred. It is time the United States learns from its mistakes.
The journey begins.
As you can see, the top of those ferry boats are pretty packed! You will find less crowds on the lower levels. I have never faced a journey by boat across the ocean during a great migration to a new country, but for a quick minute I felt what it was like to be packed onto a boat with a hundred other people like sardines. The journey took less than twenty minutes. My first up-close look:The tickets come with a free audio tour, but we decided to skip the lines to make it to the crown. Usually I would not recommend skipping a free tour of any sort, but we were on a mission to the top. After your journey you can pick up an audio tour on your way into the museum. After passing another round of security, the climb to the crown started at these large doors:
One of the original torches is on display in the main entrance. Could you imagine standing up there with this little railing the only thing keeping you from falling?The inside structure reminded me of the Eiffel tower. I later discovered that Eiffel himself actually assisted with the Liberty project. Do you see that spiral? The tight “tube” structure is the staircase up to the top!After our climb we emerged at the crown! I was expecting a larger viewing area, but was amazed to find the crown of Lady Liberty looked much like an attic crawl space, but with the most incredible views! It made the adventure all the more fun and surprising. You can see the bottom of the torch. I can’t believe that people used to crawl all the way up there. Getting to the crown was tight, I can’t imagine how small the arm is to climb through. I took several moments to really take it in and savor the experience. For a short while we had the space all to ourselves besides the two people guarding the crown. When you accomplish a goal on your list, absolutely adore every moment of it. Don’t take a second for granted. Matthew asked me if I was ready to go a few times, but I kept saying, “not just yet.” Going down was a lot more difficult than going up! The photo below is the inside of Lady Liberty’s face. Can you see her nose and mouth? The view from the pedestal was lovely. Honestly, the beauty of everything kept my happy tears from falling several times. Really, I almost cried seeing the tiny structure of Liberty in the distance when I first saw her at Battery Park, again once we reached the entrance to the pedestal, at the top of the crown, and yet one more time after walking the pedestal.
At the park families and couples were sitting in grassy areas under the trees with picnic lunches. Matthew and I bought some beverages and sat down for a little while to take in the scenery. We wished we had thought of a picnic, but we certainly will next time around. On your trip make sure to bring a water bottle. Drinks and snacks are allowed on the trip with you. I brought along a book of poetry. On trips that I know I will have little time to read a chapter, so a book of poems is simple to enjoy during quiet moments.
We asked a fellow tourist to take our photo. This time around with my new Fujifilm X Pro 2, I thought we would get a great photo instead of the blurred images we always get when we ask a stranger to use my DSLR. I don’t know what button he hit, but the photo was turned into a jpeg with a strange green effect. It took a lot of editing work to make it look almost normal. Better luck next time.
All too soon it was time to leave for the next island: Ellis. I imagined that Lady Liberty was waving goodbye.
It is crazy to imagine how many people walked through these doors. At the museum you can also look up passenger information to find records of your own ancestors. The cost is $7 for a half hour so come prepared with full names (and correct spelling) as well as arrival dates/ years, birthrates, and original hometown information. You will be surprised just how many people share the same name so having specifics can help you locate the right “James Murray.”
Also take the time to register your visit. It is completely free and comes with an e-mail certificate for your trip. The registry room echoes the hopes, dreams, and despair of all those who walked through its doors or were turned away. Writing on the wall:That, “I did it!” feeling.
All too soon, we returned to the hustle of the city.
Instead of driving back right away we decided to explore. We walked by an incredible historic church and found our way to the freedom tower. The entrance for the 9/11 memorial is stunning. This large white building is actually a mall, but when we walk through it to the other side it will take you to a beautiful park in honor of the 9/11 victims and to the museum. I don’t know if I will ever feel ready to walk inside that museum.We took one more walk by the water before returning to our car. I honestly had no idea that one of the world’s busiest cities could play host to these peaceful waterfront parks. With one last look at Liberty from afar, we were grateful for the amazing day.
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