Emma Lazarus’ famous last lines from her poem The New Colossus, beckons from the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor.
“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!”
What Emma neglected to add to the instructions of stern looking Lady Liberty gazing out over the waters of New York’s harbor was to dress for the weather.
When this Mother-Daughter Canadian duo arrived to Liberty Island via ferry, our eyes were wide at the immensity of the Statue of Liberty towering above us in full glory. Or possibly our eyes were frozen open, one or the other.
I can hear you now, “Aren’t you from Canada?” Don’t you spend six months of the year in snowbanks?”
Well that might be true however in northern climes I am decked out in my Canadian uniform of sleeping bag coat to my ankles and fuzzy antlers.
I didn’t know if fashion savvy New York City was quite ready for my style.
For this special pre-wedding getaway for my daughter Robyn, this detailed traveler wanted everything to be perfect. Clearly the meteorologists had not received the memo from this Mama Bear for cherry blossom spring days.
All I could think as we stood shivering near the Battery Park ferry terminal was how thankful I was to have booked a guide. Not only would we have priority entry to the ferry terminal, but my now numb brain could leave the details in the hands of an expert.
Why book a guide for a tour of the Statue of Liberty?
Booking with Walks of New York we had the benefits of advance tickets and having access to the pedestal of the Statue (good for looking up Ms Liberty’s skirt), but it turned out one of the key points was our guide preventing us from developing hypothermia. Both on sea and land we were guided to the best vantage points for optimal photos and then to locations inside or out of the wind.
In 2009 the National Park Service implemented an advanced reservation system for anyone wanting to climb the 354 steps to the crown of Lady Liberty. Reservations are suggested months in advance.
We did not choose to book the ‘crown’ tour however the pedestal also offers outstanding views but these too must be reserved in advance. It should be noted that only ticket holders for the crown or pedestal have access to the Statue of Liberty museum.
Besides the museum displays at the top of the pedestal that you get to sneak a peak inside Ms. Liberty. Turns out she is quite hollow save for the metal structure supporting her massive body.
All ferry tickets offer basic access to Liberty Island. Really it’s hard not to stare awestruck at her from any angle. Well in between the shivering of course.
Ellis Island Where Millions Arrived Before You
Boarding the ferry bound for Ellis Island, we learned that between 1892 and 1954 more than 12 million immigrants passed through the America’s most famous gateway. It is estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor who was processed here.
As the wind howled on the ferry I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous I had been whining about my own feelings of being cold when these new comers had traveled by sea for days if not weeks to this unknown land. Within those throngs were the likes of Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino and Cary Grant.
Bomb Threat and Evacuation of the Statue of Liberty
It does seem that adventure and I follow each other closely. On the morning of April 24, 2015 and the morning of our tour, a call was received by someone threatening to blow up the Statue of Liberty. Bomb sniffing dogs were brought in and a suspicious package was identified.
Liberty Island was evacuated and remained closed for the rest of the day as authorities swept the area. Thankfully no bomb was found. I can not be sure of the exact timing but I believe we were ahead of the evacuation call by 30 minutes.
Many thanks to our guide Joe and Walks of New York for a fascinating tour. I was delighted with Joe’s knowledge, efficiency and the fact that he didn’t let me freeze to death. I can assure you if we had been caught in the midst of the bomb threat I would have been even more delighted to be under his wing.
More information on the tour we booked with Walks of New York can be found here.
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Disclosure: We were guests of Walks of New York however all opinions shared are our own.