Celebrating the holidays in New York City is always a plus when you can take in the hundreds of historic sights and sounds that the cultural capital of the world has to offer. Recently, I got the chance to check out historic The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island thanks to City Wonders Tours. There’s no better way to celebrate the memorial holiday and honoring our great country than to pay tribute to the great American ideal of freedom with a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty – a world-recognized symbol – and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum from City Wonders Tours.
Upon arrival to the South Ferry area, I was greeted by our City Wonders tour guide and ushered to the Statue of Liberty ferry for our first stop – Liberty Island.
The Statue Of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty became the symbol of immigration during the second half of the 19th century, as over 9 million immigrants came to the United States, with the statue often being the first thing they saw when arriving by boat. It’s been less than a year since the statue was closed in 2012 due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, with the island off limits to the public. The statue reopened to visitors on Independence Day, July 4, 2013.
The Statue of Liberty (formally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World.”) was a gift to the United States from the people of France to commemorate 100 years of Franco-American friendship as well as the centennial of America’s independence. Approximately 4 million people visit the statue each year. In comparison, over 6 million people visit The Eiffel Tower, and 3.5 million visit The London Eye.
Visitors have to climb 354 stairs to reach the statue’s crown, however – if stairs aren’t your thing, there’s an elevator inside that takes you up to the pedestal level.
Ellis Island Museum
The unofficial motto of Ellis Island workers was “keep it moving!” Workers were trying to keep the line moving because the station was overcrowded. The immigration station was designed to process 5,000 people per day. But during the peak immigration period, more than 11,000 immigrants arrived every day.
The museum is located in the Main Building of the former immigration station complex and tells the moving tales of the 12 million immigrants who entered America through the golden door of Ellis Island. Today, the descendants of those immigrants account for almost half of the American people.
The companies that transported immigrant passengers kept detailed passenger lists, called “ship manifests.” Manifests were filled out not at Ellis Island but at the immigrants’ ports of departure. Passengers were asked a series of questions; their answers were entered in the manifests. Ellis Island inspectors then used the manifests to examine immigrants.
Fleeing hardships such as poverty, religious persecution, or political unrest in their homelands, the immigrants came to America in search of freedom and opportunity. Most came by steamship and landed in at the Port of New York. Immigrants to Ellis Island mostly came from Europe. Steamship lines were held accountable for medical examinations and vaccinations of the immigrants, and disinfection of both immigrants and baggage before leaving home port.
A special feature of the Ellis Island museum, the Wall of Honor overlooks the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline and is the longest wall of names in the world. This unique display pays tribute to America’s rich cultural heritage, celebrating American immigration from its earliest beginnings right up to the present day, and contains more than 700,000 names inscribed for posterity by family members and friends.
For more on the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island Museum visit StatueofLiberty.org or EllisIsland.org. To discover your next great travel tour in Italy, France, Spain, The United Kingdom or in the United States visit CityWonders.com. You can also view real-time ratings and reviews of City Wonders private tours on TripAdvisor.com. Interested in connecting with City Wonders? Get social with on Facebook, Twitter and tell them Divas On Destinations sent you!