Last winter I had the pleasure of visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for the first time. Now this is my first time, in general, exploring New York’s tourist side and I was hoping to do that this year even more but …Rona!(COVID-19)
I was surprised that my dad wanted to see it. I really thought that he had gone before but he said that he never went before because New Yorkers dont do such and then I quickly realized why he said that but before I go into all that a little tip for anyone who decides to go there after this pandemic is over.
BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE. It will save you so much time and from getting scammed by folks right outside Battery Park who say they sell tickets. Anyways as to why he said this is because soooo many tourists come to NY and crowd these tourist attractions and plus NY is a busy city who has that kind of time? But because I was there for winter break I guess he decided why not, after all, I spent most of my time in Los Angeles. When he came to LA I showed him around because I knew the place like the back of my hand so I guess this was his way of returning the favor.
First, we had to decide if we were taking the ferry from the NY or NJ side (Technically the Statue is in NJ waters) and well obviously it was NY because we live there. Then we had to decide if we wanted to see just the statue and Ellis Island or go up to the pedestal of the statue or go up to the crown (cost more) in the end the total was about forty-something dollars cause I got a senior citizen ticket for Dad and a regular one for myself. (I think I have the tickets somewhere still) then finding a time slot that worked for Dad knowing that he was coming from work that day and would be sleepy. I paid for them and got confirmation of the tickets.
Next day I wake up really excited to go, I felt like an 8-year-old again. I got up before 8 am and took a shower and got ready. Usually, Dad gets home by 8:30 for work so I wanted to make sure he got a nap. He came home with food that day or the day before, couldn’t remember…but I know that I did not need to prepare breakfast except for tea. He went to take a shower… he moves a little slow… and its like a hen about to lay eggs. Not because he is old or so but because naturally my Dad turns and turns when he has to go somewhere. It’s annoying sometimes but I deal with it. We get ready and leave the apartment. I get outside and its cold and rainy, the kind of day I like to stay inside for but not today… I was on a mission. Dad and I walked to the train station on Eastern Parkway via Kingston and took the first train to Nostrand Ave then got off and waited for the other train to Battery Park ( I don’t know the train system in NY well enough). We get to Battery Park and we are immediately flocked by people asking us if we are going to the statue of liberty, to which I reply, ‘ We already bought tickets’ and then disappointment covers their face as we keep walking. Other folks show us where to pick up our tickets. As we walk further into the park I see that that the line is SUPER long and I am appalled. Like why are there so many people here? More than half are tourists and foreigners. A bit irritated by so many people, I try find the window to pick up the tickets and we get into the shorter line since we planned ahead, that line moves much quicker than the others and then we approach security so that we can be searched. After about 45 minutes in line and going through security we approach the ferry.
Now let me say that I have never been on a boat before much less in a place like New York City. I was scared and panic about falling into the water but Dad is thoroughly enjoying everything and is taking pictures (oh great!). We get onto the Ferry and I am relieved.. I see the view of Governor’s Island, the statue, the port of New Jersey and Ellis Island. There is a concession stand within the ferry but we pass this and go straight to the top deck of the ferry that’s open. It’s not raining anymore but the seats are wet so we find tissue to wipe the seats and sit down. It doesn’t take a lot to entertain my Dad so he was excited. Then the Ferry takes off and we are ‘gunning’ (a word my Dad loves) towards Liberty Island. As we move closer to the island, we see the statue getting bigger and bigger, and everyone stands up and they are taking photos. I also take some and get my Dad’s reaction on some of them which are hilarious.
We dock on Liberty Island after about 20 minutes on the Hudson River and walk to the Liberty Museum. We didn’t do the audio tour because apparently, we were too cool for that. The museum had a plethora of information about the statue in terms of its history and how it was built and so forth. It was eye-opening for me and Dad as immigrants. We left the museum and walked around and went closer to the Statue and the view of New Jersey and Lower Manhattan. The Staten Island ferry, a big reddish-orange boat, zooms by with passengers. I told my Dad we had access to the pedestal (the wall part right underneath the actual statue) and he lost his shit. He was totally down to go up there. We had to go through security again so that was a bummer but after that, we made our way inside the statue. Worst mistake of my life made here (not actually … I’m being dramatic) but yea there were 6 floors or over 160 stairs to get to the pedestal. I was grossly out of breath by the time I got to the top because of my asthma..however the view was worth it. It was so beautiful that I did not want to leave. After about 10 minutes there we go back down and decide to catch the ferry since Dad was getting tired from working all night. we wait a while and get on the ferry home, we decided not to go to Ellis Island ( which has a lot more history) and we go home. My Dad buys artwork of NYC for us both and we leave Battery Park and head back to Brooklyn.
Now, what does Lady Liberty mean to me… well I’ll start a bit with Ellis island.. This was the port of entry for immigrants to the USA for a long time until it was shut down in the 1940s I believe. Since then it has been put with Liberty Island formerly known as Bedloe Island as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The other day I watched a video on Ellis island and it talked about what strict rules the immigrants who entered had to do through, getting a physical by doctors on arrival and sometimes being quarantined or sent back (that’s not the worst of it). Many came for better opportunities, ran away from war-torn countries and famine. Many of the prominent arrivals at this time were the Italians, Jews, British, and Irish my ancestors who were treated less than human for many years until they proved their worth (I seem to have a history of ancestors who suffered?… but anyways back to the story) Basically if you are white and in the US most likely your ancestors came through Ellis Island. Even the books that people signed when entering are available and some folks were able to track their family members that entered. But the one thing I remember is that many of these immigrants when they saw the statue with her torch burning bright, it was a symbol of hope, new beginnings, and a new life. As an immigrant, I can see why that means so much to them. Ironically enough my port of entry was New York, however, it was John F Kennedy airport so a little more luxurious and not by boat… haha. But when I arrived here it was a new beginning for me, I was 17 and I did not know what to expect of the world much less a new country I did not know. I did not know I would be here 10 years later writing this story, and no matter what I am proud of my immigrant background in the US, yea I might code switch, try to sound American and acculturated, but you bet your life I will tell you I am Grenadian to the bone and that runs deep in me, even if sometimes I feel like I am not Grenadian enough or American enough, I now know that I am both and no one can take that from me. I might not have accomplished a lot, I had my ups and downs but I made it through and here I am today making the best of my opportunity here today. And that’s what Lady Liberty means to me.
I will attach photos from my outing!
That Grenville Girl signing off!
In photos : Ellis Island, Batter Park, NYC, NJ, Liberty Island.