At the Feet of Lady Liberty

June 27, 2015

“Where liberty is, there is my country.” -Benjamin Franklin

For all our time in NYC, we have never landed on Liberty Island and climbed the Statue of Liberty. We usually take or send everyone who visits on a ferry around the Statue. I have always been under the impression that it would be frightfully expensive to go on the statue and that even if you were willing to pay the price, you had to book months in advance. Tickets to the crown have to be booked at least three months in advance, but tickets to the pedestal are easily available. It costs only $25 for pedestal access and $28 to be able to go all the way to the crown. This includes the ferry ride to and from Liberty Island and you can board the ferry from either Battery Park, NYC or Liberty State Park, NJ. You could even do what we did, Take the boat to Liberty Island from Battery Park and come back to Liberty State Park or vice-versa.

As the statue grows from a speck in the distance to a majestic lady holding up a torch, our fellow travelers flock to the sides of the boat to take pictures. I wonder what thoughts crossed  the minds of immigrants coming across the seas in search of a better life when they set first their eyes on this epitome of the American ideals of freedom and liberty. People oppressed and terrorized in their own lands, forced to flee to save their families and souls; doctors and merchants, once rich and respected in their own country, now faced with the prospect of snaking drains in a foreign land to make ends meet; seasick and weary passengers, at the end of a long harrowing journey. Did joy course through their veins? Was there a surge of relief? Or were they overcome with *hiraeth.

IMG_0600The immigrants may have been greeted by hope and apprehension; we were welcomed by light rain, gusty winds and mangled corpses of broken umbrellas discarded in despair. Self.Self-guided tours of the island and the statue are available for free. Make sure you grab one. I accidentally got a kiddie one; honestly it gave the same information as the adult guides (which everyone else in the group got) but was less ponderous. We had tickets to the pedestal. To get to the pedestal, we had to climb around two hundred stairs or so. To get to the crown, there are another two hundred steps, on a narrow winding staircase. If you think you are even mildly claustrophobic, this is clearly not your thing. There is an elevator in the lobby that takes you to the pedestal level only, but we were shooed right past it. At one point Jan and I even considered going back down and telling them we were pregnant, to be allowed to use the elevator. The thought that the elevator might be out of service and we would have to climb all back, quickly dissuaded us.

Statue of LibertyWhile being on the statue offers a great view of Manhattan skyline, the tour boats that take you around the statue do that too. Plus, those boats offer a fantastic photo op with the grande dame. This reminds me of our boat excursion with Rups and Aamer. Rups, Aamer and I had the perfect spot for a picture, but the husband was stuck behind a tourist and unable to get to us. Much to the hapless husband’s embarrassment and the unsuspecting tourist’s amusement, Rups exclaimed exasperatedly, “Just say excuse me, and come!”

*hiraeth – hireath

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