Liberty and Freedom
A Quiet Day Trip
A visit to Liberty Island requires following some tourist rules. These are:
- Everyone must travel to the same place at the same time on the same boat;
- Hawkers are allowed to entertain you and to con money out of you;
- You must carry a water bottle, eat an ice-cream, and wear a bright-green styrofoam crown on your head so you look like a statue of liberty.
I failed on most of these points, though I did manage to time my visit so that I had company on the boat trip.
I got to Liberty Island by traveling to the bottom end of Manhattan Island, joining a queue to buy tickets at historic Fort Clinton in Battery Park, then lining up with the same people to wait for a boat. A rope along the centre of the wharf divided the hawkers from their prey. Cheap watches, glitzy bangles, ukulele players, styrofoam crown sellers and a man who could turn himself inside-out. All good entertainment whether you wanted it or not. Boats go across to the islands on the half hour, so reprieve eventually arrived in the form of Miss Liberty, a Circle Line boat. It was a relief to get out onto the harbour (with my hundreds of traveling companions.)
A fine sunny day, an amazing skyline, happy people. Very liberating.
The statue on Liberty Island was designed by French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi for the harbour of Alexandria in Egypt. Somehow the design model kept increasing in size and the plan altered so the finished statue came here, though one of the earlier smaller models still stands beside the Seine in Paris.
If someone gives you a giant statue, where do you put it and how do you pay to erect it? Over a period of years the torch, flame and balcony were carted around America from show to show drumming up donations. Eventually enough money was found to commence reclaim of a rocky knob in New York harbour and to create Liberty Island. This symbol of the American Dream finally had a home.
The copper statue was erected on an iron framework designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) and was dedicated by President Cleveland in 1886.
There is more to Liberty Island than its statue - which is certainly special enough. Here I found space, room to stretch and an opportunity to do nothing but watch the world go by at the pace of slow and stately ferries.
And is their really an attitude of Liberty to the island's visitors, the inhabitants of New York, or to the American people? Perhaps you never appreciate freedom to do what you want, when you want, until you lose it. In my opinion, yes, they all have the attitude, though I think many folk are unaware of how blessed they are.
The National Parks Service administers
... but Wikipedia tells the tale: Statue of Liberty