The Statue of Liberty a universal icon. It is the symbol not only of New York City or the United States and but also the entire philosophy of democratic freedom and the culmination of European Enlightenment. Liberty Island is as close to holy ground as a secular monument can be and visitors do not approach as tourists, but as pilgrims. Lines can be long, crowds can be thick and the weather can be poor, but consider this part of a genuine Statue of Liberty experience--part of the 'huddled masses, yearning to breathe free'. The island may not merit repeat visits (except when the $70 million upgraded museum opens), but it must be visited once by everyone who believes in the promise of America.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
What You Will See
A journey to the statue begins at Castle Clinton-in itself a monument worth some time exploring. Grab a ticket inside the historic nineteenth-century fort and pass through airport-style security to board the ferry. Regardless of the weather or the crowds, ride on top for unmatched views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor and the Statue herself. On the island, wander the base of the moment-another in the ring of forts built to protect the harbor after the Revolution. Advanced planning can get you tickets into the statue and up to the crown (usual not available with same-day tickets), but this access is not required to appreciate the history, symbolism and spirit of the Statue.
Why You Should Go
There are many ways to simply view the Statue of Liberty: the free ferry to Staten Island and back, the ferry to Governor's Island, Battery Park and Lower Manhattan on the New York side or Liberty State Park on the Jersey side. While each of these is well-worth the experience, none of them can compares to approaching Liberty Island by boat and standing at the base of this modern wonder of the world. Yes, lines can be long. Yes, security is tight. Yes, passes into the crown of the statue are limited and require advanced planning. Yes, amenities on the island are both expensive and limited. But this is a pilgrimage-a necessary trip for every American and people of goodwill everywhere-and the nominal cost in money, time and inconvenience is insignificant in the shadow of lady liberty.