Few buildings conjure up as many emotions as New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty, an awe-inspiring symbol of freedom, hope and democracy standing proud on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
One of the world’s most recognizable monuments, the 305-foot (92 meters) tall Statue of Liberty greeted weary immigrants travelling by boat to a better life during the 19th century. A gift to the United States from France in 1886 to commemorate the American Declaration of Independence, it has made countless appearances on television and in Hollywood films.
For those visiting today, a ferry trip to the island includes breathtaking views of the Manhattan harbor, city skyline and the statue. Ferries frequently depart at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.
Guided tours, run by the National Park Service, clock in at just under an hour — perfect for tourists with packed schedules — and provide a general overview of the island and the statue’s long history. Self-guided audio tours are also available for the more autonomous. Whichever you choose, be sure to join the line to ascend to the statue’s crown. Closed to the public following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and again for renovations in 2011, the platform is now up and running. There are 25 glass windows serving up 360-degree views of New York that are well worth the slow-winding line up to the top.
Less than a mile north of Liberty Island is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, a worthy stop for those intrigued by New York’s immigration history. Until 1954, Ellis Island was a processing center for millions of people seeking asylum or a new start in the United States. The museum, housed in the island’s historic main building, has self-guided exhibits crammed with fascinating photographs, artifacts, prints, videos and interactive displays that capture the hopes and struggles of the city’s immigrant population.
The Statue of Liberty is located in the New York Harbor, between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island. Catch a ferry at Battery Park, on many bus and subway lines.