Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, NY

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This is a shivers-down-the-spine park where the concepts of freedom, adversity, opportunity and triumph play out in the riveting stories of the people–some famous, though most not– who have been linked to Liberty and Ellis islands spanning centuries.

At the Liberty Island Museum the enormous scale of planning and construction of the remarkable copper queen of New York Harbor is fully appreciated. At the Ellis Island Museum dramatic stories unfold of the many immigrant waves from 1892 to 1954. (Over 40 percent of living Americans can trace their roots to Ellis Island which directly links the park to the personal histories of over 120 million people!)

Some tips for your trip: Ferry and Liberty Island tickets must be booked in advance. There are different levels of access including grounds-only, pedestal access and crown access (which are often reserved up to six months in advance in warmer months). All tickets also allow access to neighboring Ellis Island. Be sure to allow enough time to clear security before boarding a ferry.

Note: Since Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012 the NPS has been working to replace electrical, communications and heating and cooling systems on Ellis Island. Many museum objects remain offsite until the repairs are complete, which is anticipated to be this December.

Photo and text © Heather Hansen