Monday, July 31, 2006

A Trip to Lady Liberty

I know I"ve been bad about adding to the blog over the past week. That’s mostly because my Mom is visiting from upstate New York this week. We like to get her down here about every 5 weeks or so to visit. This time we decided to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island while she was here. We know that Rick’s parents want to go when they come in October, so we really needed to do a “trial run” to get the kinks out. Mom was excited about going and didn’t mind being a guinea pig of sorts.

We left the house pretty early [at least early for us] and it only took us about an hour to reach our destination, Liberty State Park, on the New Jersey side. From here we’d catch the ferry out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We had advance tickets because we were going to the Swiss Day Celebraton at Ellis Island, so included in our ferry tickets were passes to the pedestal at the Statue of Liberty. Not everyone gets to go up in the pedestal and stand on the observation deck. You must have a pass that is only available in advance. We just lucked out!

We had a short wait for the next ferry since they run every 45 minutes and one had just left about ten minutes before we arrived. We went through security [just like at the airport] and stood in line. It was already hot at 9:30 a.m. and the sun was beating down on us. At least my Mom thought to bring a hat for her head, and many people had brought umbrellas to keep them shaded. We knew in advance it was going to be in the high 90s, but weren’t really thinking ahead as to what that meant. Sunscreen would have been nice to have as well. 
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

First stop was Ellis Island as it made the most sense in the way that the ferries ran. Plus our pedestal passes for Liberty where not valid until 12:45. Here is the museum building on our approach. You can see the Swiss flag and all the white tents set up for the festivites.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I had not realized that when Ellis Island was closed as an immigration station in 1954, that the buildings were just left to deteriorate into sad ghosts of what they had once been to so many people. The new immigration museum was opened in 1990 after being completely restored. The effect is certainly stunning, and very interesting. Many interesting exhibits show the steps involved for the immigrants the moment they stepped off the boats, such as the different exams they had to pass, etc. Wonderful photos help tell the stories. Some photos of people are blown up to huge proportions and the images are haunting. Eerie. Each of them are wearing their native garb. We didn’t go into all the exhibits, there just wasn’t time. The brochure states you should allow 3 hours to tour the museum, and I think I agree. The exhibit that showed the building before restoration is extremely interesting…and haunting. What a lot of work!

We had lunch at the Swiss event, brats and german-style potato salad, but it was too hot outside to do much else. Most of the entertainment would come later in the day. So, after lunch we set off for Lady Liberty. Here she is on our approach.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And another shot as we rounded the corner to dock at Liberty Island with the skyline of Manhattan in back of her. What a lovely day!
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We wasted no time in going to the pedestal since our passes were now valid. The Statue of Liberty was closed to the public between 2001 after the 9/11 attacks and reopened in 2004 with security upgrades. We had to go through yet another security search. This time with a machine I had never seen before but similar to a metal detector. You had to stand there as little puffs of air hit your body from every direction. They said is was a kind of “bomb sniffer” looking for residue of explosive materials on the body. Okay, whatever. We waited again for the next slot to enter the museum in the pedestal’s lower level. While we waited my Mom was pretty entertained just watching the strange National Forest Service guide sitting there as he kept nodding off for a bit of sleepy-time. He sort of came back to life to give his little speech once we were finally inside but I think he would have been happier just sleeping.

Inside the lower pedestal is the original torch that was replaced by the gold one that Liberty now holds. The upper floor houses a museum of the making of Liberty which is very interesting. We spent only a short amount of time here since we still had the observation deck to see and we wanted to be back at the ferry dock in time for 2:15 ferry. Another short wait to board the elevator that would take us up ten floors to the observation deck. Inside the building you can look up through the glass ceiling to see the inner structure of the statue and the spiral staircase people used to climb up! No thank you! Of course, visits to her crown are no longer possible, and the torch has been off-limits since 1916. Here is the inside of the great lady.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The view is really nice from the observation deck and we walked the whole way around it. It is very narrow and only two people can pass…barely. You must walk down about six flights of stairs to get back down to ground level. We were all pretty pooped out from the heat and the constant on-the-go-day, so we were glad to board the ferry [we timed it just right] and get back to our car. Too bad the return trip took us 2 hours instead of the hour that it should have taken due to construction, traffic, and an accident [someone else—not us!]. We finally arrived home hot and tired of being stuck in traffic at 5:00 p.m.

A very worthwhile trip despite the long ride home! And to think we live that close to sights like that! Two more photos of the Lady and I’ll leave you to it.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


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