Raising her lamp beside New York City’s immense harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most vivid emblems of America. Despite the fact she is French, given to the American people to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the statue has come to symbolize the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Its spirit has long been evoked by the poem Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to help raise funds for installing the Statue of Liberty. Called “The New Colossus,” the poem ends with these famous words:
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!”
The Statue of Liberty sits on a 12-acre island and can be visited by ferry (877/523-9849, daily, $18.50) only. It’s about a mile from Manhattan, but much easier to reach from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, off New Jersey Turnpike exit 14B. So long as you start your trip before 2pm, both ferry routes also visit Ellis Island, where some 12 million immigrants entered the United States. There is no admission fee for the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, but if you want to climb up onto Lady Liberty’s pedestal you need a pedestal access ticket (also $18.50) instead.
All pass-holders can explore the base of the Statue of Liberty and gaze up inside her hollow shell, but access up into the small viewing area in the crown on her head requires special tickets ($3 extra) and a climb up more than 350 steps. Her torch has been off-limits since 1916.