The Statue of Liberty is easily one of the most recognizable symbols of America. A gift from France, the Statue is now 123 years old and made it’s mark welcoming immigrants to America. However, the Statue is only half the equation. Immigrants would pass by the Statue on the way to Ellis Island, where they were processed by immigration officials. It is at Ellis Island where millions of people entered the country, looking for a fresh start and a piece of everything America had to offer.
So, now that we’ve got that history lesson out of the way, what do you need to know when visiting the statue?
How to get there: there’s only one way to get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and that’s by ferry. The ferry, which departs from both Battery Park (New York) and Liberty State Park (New Jersey), has taken millions of tourists to and from the island. If you’re impatient, know that there is practically no wait from Liberty State Park (since no one visits New Jersey) versus Battery Park. Unfortunately, you can’t just make an impromptu trip to the statue – you’ll have to buy tickets online at statuecruises.com, since the statue only accepts a limited number of visitors everyday.
Climbing the statue: Contrary to popular belief, it’s no longer possible to climb to the Statue’s torch, as the arm isn’t strong enough to handle all the tourists that visit the exhibit everyday. In fact, from 9/11/01 – 7/4/09, it wasn’t possible to climb up to the crown either, since it was closed to the public after the terrorists attacks of 9/11. The climb up is not for the faint of heart, with 354 steps (each way, don’t forget) and no working elevator. It also gets very, very hot in the summer.
Cost: Visiting the statue and Ellis Island is free, however there is a fee for the ferry. As of this writing, it’s $10 for kids and $12 for adults.
Best Times to Visit: The summer months (June – September) are the most popular times to visit, which is both good and bad. Wait times can be pretty hefty during peak times, with and 90 minute wait times for the ferry not unheard of, and 2 hour waits to climb to the crown. Of course, two decades ago before the visitation restrictions, average wait time to climb to the crown approached 4 hours.
So there you have it! Your guide to surviving the Statue of Liberty! Oh yeah, don’t forget the Gatorade!