We saved the best for last on our week tour of local attractions. Today the boys and I went to see Lady Liberty.
The first ferry stop is Ellis Island. The main attraction here is the beautiful building housing the Immigration Museum. There are some interesting facts about Ellis Island you may not know. Similar to Battery Park and other parts of the exterior of Manhattan, as well as Liberty State Park, a large part of Ellis Island is actually reclaimed land. The original island was much smaller than it is today. Between 1892 and 1934 the island was expanded using soil and rock excavated from the bed of the Hudson River. Another interesting fact is that most of Ellis Island is located in New Jersey, not New York. Anyone who can draw a straight line on a map (or is from New Jersey) knows that Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, for that matter, are actually in New Jersey, right? Well the Supreme Court agreed, with respect to Ellis Island anyway. In 1998 the Supreme Court did decide that about ninety percent of Ellis Island is in New Jersey. If you are a New Yorker, don’t fret. The federal government actually holds title to Ellis Island (and Liberty Island). The lawsuit was largely about tax issues. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/27/nyregion/ellis-island-verdict-ruling-high-court-gives-new-jersey-most-ellis-island.html
The next ferry stop is Liberty Island. This island was also the subject of jurisdictional disputes between New Jersey and New York over the years, particularly with respect to the reclaimed land portion of the island. In a precedent setting decision, however, New York and New Jersey have agreed to share jurisdiction of Liberty Island.
Originally Bedloe’s Island, Liberty Island was home to Fort Wood since 1811. This military fort was in the shape of an 11 point star and was used in many battles starting with the war of 1812. It was named after Lt. Col Eleazer Derby Wood; it is actually made of granite.
The Statue of Liberty was placed directly on top of Fort Wood and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue was designed by Frederic Bartholdi to represent Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. It was given to the United States as a gift from the people of France in support of freedom and independence. The tablet that Lady Liberty holds represents the law and on it is inscribed July 4, 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence.
The boys and I loved learning the history of the island and of the statue. It was closed for a while after Hurricane Sandy – it reopened on July 4, 2013 – so we picked a good time to visit.
We were able to go inside and visit the museum that is located where Fort Wood once was. We learned a great deal and saw some pretty amazing sights. This is the plaque inscribed with the original dedication. Can you read it? It says, “A gift from the people of the Republic of France to the people of the United States, this statue of Liberty Enlightening The World (this is the Statue of Liberty’s real name) commemorates the alliance of the two nations in achieving the independence of the United States of America and attests their abiding friendship.”
We went up as far as the pedestal. That old fear of heights kept us from going up to the crown. It was high enough where we were, trust me! Once outside the boys and I looked up at the view of the statue and saw the strangest thing. The statue was moving! Pretty fast too! After a second we realized that it was just the wind moving the clouds above the statue. Actually, the boys did not believe me about this right away. You can imagine the moment, I am sure. They still may not believe me!
So, I am wondering, have you visited the Statue of Liberty?