On our trip to New York City in June my husband and I were going to meet friends in Battery Park in Manhattan for dinner in one of our favorite restaurants. Since we were in the area a few hours early, we decided to take a walk and when we saw the sign for the Staten Island Ferry we decided to hop on and take a little cruise of New York Harbor! It is a nice way to cool off on a hot day, and the view of Lower Manhattan is one of the best, plus it passes by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which are always inspirational sights to see! The very best part of a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is that it is free! Yes, a round trip to and from Staten Island--one of the five boroughs of New York City--is free!
(all photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)
We boarded the ferry and left the Whitehall Terminal, on its 5.2 mile run to the St. George Terminal in Staten Island. Some interesting facts about the Staten Island Ferry: It has been operated by New York City since 1905. It carries over 22 million passengers annually, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It has an on time performance of 96 percent, making it one of the most reliable forms of mass transit. On a typical weekday, five boats make 109 trips, carrying approximately 70,000 passengers. During rush hours, the ferry runs on a four boat schedule, with 15 minutes between departures.
New York Harbor is a busy shipping, commercial and private pleasure boat location.
This is the view of the Statue of Liberty that is visible at first. She is a National Monument sitting on a pedestal on Liberty Island. Her full name is Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, and she was a gift to the United States of America from the people of France in 1886. You can read more about the people influential in history on this link.
We can now also see this view of Jersey City, New Jersey, from the harbor.
As we approach the Statue of Liberty we get a good view (click on photo to enlarge it) of her golden lamp and of all the people standing on the pedestal and on line waiting to board one of the Statue Cruise boats that brings one to the island.
Emma Lazarus wrote the sonnet entitled "The New Colossus," in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal it stands on. Her sonnet was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty. The poem can be read in full on a plaque inside the pedestal in the museum at the base. This is what it says:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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!"
- Emma Lazarus
For the 12 million immigrants who entered through New York and the Ellis Island federal immigrant processing station, between 1892 until it closed in 1954, they certainly saw the Statue of Liberty as a welcoming sight. The chance for a new life, new opportunities, new dreams. One of the immigrants that gazed upon her was my own grandmother and I found her name and ship she immigrated on as a young woman in the early 1900's on the Ellis Island Archive that contains passenger lists of more than 51 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members who came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York from 1892 to 1957, at this link. Perhaps you can also find your own immigrant ancestor on this link?
When the Staten Island Ferry arrives at the St. George Terminal in Staten Island all must disembark. You can then just go through the turnstiles again in the terminal to get on the next ferry returning to Lower Manhattan. You can see Jersey City, the Statue of Liberty and then Lower Manhattan in the distance in the photo above.
A closer view of all three.
As we began our voyage back to Manhattan, I could see another ferry on its way to Staten Island.
We cruised by the beautiful Statue of Liberty again....
...and cruised closer to Manhattan.
One last look...
...and a good view of Ellis Island. It is now open as a Museum of Immigration and very worth seeing.
I loved this view of another Staten island Ferry passing the Statue of Liberty. I can't imagine that the pilots of the ferry, or the daily passengers, ever get tired of that view.
We are now headed back to Lower Manhattan as dusk approaches, and we were anticipating our dinner that evening with friends.
New York Harbor and the East River and Hudson River are always busy with sightseeing boats, water taxis and ferries. It's a great way to sightsee and get a different perspective of New York City from the water. If you are a really adventurous tourist, you can also take a helicopter sightseeing ride.
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