Friday, July 8, 2011

Trip to USA - Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty National Monument comprises Liberty Island (where the Statue of Liberty sits) and Ellis Island. Entrance to the two islands is free, but there is a charge for the ferry service to the islands. You will also need to reserve a complimentary ticket if you want to enter the statue’s base and pedestal and you have to purchase an additional ticket if you want to go up to the statue’s crown. Tickets to the statue are limited because of safety and security reasons.

The crown tickets were sold out so we decided to just see the Statue of Liberty from the ferry without getting off. Here we are, on the upper deck of the ferry, with the Lower Manhattan skyline behind us. Ryan is holding a large pretzel which we bought from a stall near the waterfront. It wasn't very good and he abandoned it pretty much as soon as I took this photo.

Here's the famous lady!

Some facts for you: The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France. The neoclassical sculpture represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. Originally, the statue was a dull copper color, but shortly after 1900 a green patina caused by the oxidation of the copper began to spread and by 1906 it had entirely covered the statue.

For the many immigrants that flocked from Europe to New York, the Statue of Liberty was the first concrete sign of the USA. They must have been looking out for her throughout their many months at sea. I imagine that, upon seeing her, they must have felt such an overwhelming sense of relief, accomplishment, joy and hope. It must have been the moment that they knew they were finally free.

In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO "Statement of Significance" describes the statue as a "masterpiece of the human spirit" that "endures as a highly potent symbol—inspiring contemplation, debate and protest—of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity."

The statue makes one of its most famous cinematic appearances in the 1968 picture Planet of the Apes, in which it is seen half-buried in sand. It is destroyed in the science-fiction films Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and Cloverfield.

When the ferry stopped at Liberty Island, there was a throng of people on the island waiting to board the ferry back to Battery Park. It looked like there were at least two hundred people waiting! They were standing in rows, shoulder to shoulder as if at the start of a marathon, and we knew we'd made the right decision not to get off the ferry! The island is only about 12 acres so you can practically see the whole island from the ferry.

This is Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the USA as the site of the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 to 1954. Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, hoping to achieve the "American Dream". It is estimated that more than 100 million Americans are directly related to immigrants who passed through Ellis Island during its tenure as an immigration station. My impression of Ellis Island is from the movie Hitch. Richard probably remembers it from X-Men and The Godfather Part II.

It was fantastic to see the Statue of Liberty and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. I'm not sure if Ryan appreciated what he was seeing, but he sure had fun running around on the ferry!

When we disembarked back at Battery Park, Ryan resumed his pigeon adventures. We turned his stale abandoned giant pretzel into a feast for the pigeons, tearing bits off for them.

The park was fairly busy with activity, especially near the waterfront. Aside from the visitors, there were performers/buskers, caricaturists and stalls selling photos, souvenirs, drinks and snacks.

We bought these metal boards from two of the stalls. We're thinking that Ryan might like them for his room when he's a little older. For now, they're displayed in the passageway leading to his room.


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