My long-time friend, Brigid, has just completed her masters degree at NYU. During her two years of grad school, I've had every intention of visiting her, but intentions aren't the same as tickets. A few months ago, I finally, I got my act together and purchased airfare for a weekend visit in April.
I was thrilled to finally be re-united with my friend. We went to the same Catholic grade school and high school, but over the years life has taken us to different parts of the country. I was able to see what her life is like now, and get a glimpse of her NYC while she was still there.
The trip started out as mine usually do--delayed, the cherry on top being a re-routing from LaGuardia to JFK (seriously, I have the worst luck)! By the time I reached Brigid's apartment in Manhattan, It was just past 2 am.
We woke early the next morning so we could get going to the Status of Liberty and Ellis Island. But first, we enjoyed some New York bagels. Brigid had picked them up the day before and helped assemble this lovely breakfast. Henceforth, every bagel I eat will be compared to this one. The bar has been set quite high!
Brigid lives within walking distance of many of the touristy attractions in New York City, so after breakfast, we merely walked a couple of blocks down to Battery Park in order to board the Statue Cruises ferry.
The Statue Cruises ferry classifies prices tickets into three categories. All three categories include a free audio guide.
- Reserve with Crown ticket - ferry to Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and access to the Statue of Liberty's crown ($21/adult)
- Reserve with Pedestal Access - ferry to Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and access up to the Fort Wood section of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty ($18/adult)
- Reserve Only - ferry to Liberty Island, Ellis Island ($18/adult)
My bucket list states: "Statue of Liberty - see it and climb all the way to the top", but I didn't realize that tickets to climb to the crown (or to the pedestal, for that matter) sell out MONTHS in advance. In fact, when we tried to get tickets in early April, the earliest available crown ticket was late July! We ended up getting "Reserve Only" tickets and I enjoyed walking around the statue, learning bits of history from Brigid. When you tour with a girl who has a masters degree in Museum Studies, you don't need an audio guide! Plus, I have a feeling that the Statue of Liberty--like the Eiffel Tower--is best viewed from afar. For these reasons, 26-year old Aimee has decided to trump the 17-year old Aimee (author of my bucket list) and say that my visit to Liberty Island still "checks the box".
A couple of interesting facts about the Statue of Liberty:
- The people of France funded the statue, but the people of the US funded the pedestal. When public funds for the project dried up, Joseph Pulitzer ran a newspaper campaign to urge Americans to contribute something: "Let us not wait for the millionaires to give us this money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of America (Source)." Pulitzer raised over $100,000 (equivalent to over$2 million today), despite most donations being under $1.
- I had always thought that the entire statue was on display at the Paris World Fair in 1878. It turns out, I was wrong...only the head/bust was on display at the fair, and they sold tickets to view the construction of the rest.
The ferry goes from Liberty Island to Ellis Island every 25-30 minutes. When we had finished up on Liberty Island, we headed over to Ellis Island to poke around for a little bit. I added "Visit Ellis Island" to my bucket list a few years ago, upon the suggestion of a friend. I was worried we weren't going to be visit the island (damn you, Hurricane Sandy!), but luckily it was open for visitors.
We spent some time poking around the museum exhibits downstairs before heading up to the famous Great Hall, where immigrants were registered, and had things like their health and legal status examined.
After a bit more exploring, we were ready to head back to Manhattan. We had BIG plans for that afternoon...