Tracing N.Y. Roots: A Historical Guide To Liberty Island

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Searching for our roots is an almost universal hunger. So many of us here in the U.S. trace our beginnings to New York Harbor and a long since passed family member’s first glimpse of Lady Liberty. These early immigrants became the heart of New York, and much of their story can be read at this historic location.

The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island  Proudly keeping guard on Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty reopened on July 4, 2013 after being closed for an extended period of time due to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. Currently, there is limited access to points along Ellis Island, but the Immigration Museum continues to remain closed until further notice.

One way to fully enjoy Lady Liberty and the surrounding area is by boat. Statue Cruises sail every thirty minutes for a one-hour, narrated tour from docks in Battery Park, New York and Liberty State Park, New Jersey. Sail the relaxing seas and breathe in the salt air while you listen to the story of historical points along New York Harbor as well as learn about the immigrants arriving to her shores, their travails and triumphs. The boats do not dock on the island but offer astonishingly close-up views of the 305 foot high Statue.

For those who have always dreamed of climbing the 154-stepped, spiral staircase up to Lady Liberty’s heights, limited tickets are currently available to her crown, where panoramic, sweeping views are assured. Crown access also includes the original torch display. For those who haven’t yet mastered the art of the stair master, tickets can also be purchased to the more readily-accessible Statue pedestal. At around half the height of the entire Statue, the pedestal also offers vast views of Ellis Island, New York, New Jersey and the surrounding Harbor.

Another fascinating destination on Liberty Island is the Liberty Island Museum, dedicated to telling the story of the Statue’s conception from design through to the current day and the relationship between United States and France, who gifted Lady Liberty to our shores. Guided Park Ranger tours of the Island also tell the story of the Statue’s inception and execution, its symbolism and other points of interest specific to the immigrants who were welcomed home when they spotted her ship-side for the first time. Children’s audio tours are also available.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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