Statue of Liberty

By Sharon Odegaard

What is the Statue of Liberty?

The Statue of Liberty is a recognizable icon of the United States. Lady Liberty stands firmly atop her pedestal on a small island in the waters of New York Harbor. She greets ships headed for landfall after they have journeyed across the sea from other countries. And because the Statue of Liberty was the first sighting by immigrants coming into the United States, she soon became a symbol of a country that welcomed so many in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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full view of the statue of liberty, taken from below against a blue sky.

Lady Liberty has been a touchpoint for freedom and community from the beginning. A gift from France in 1888, the Statue of Liberty affirmed the alliance between the U.S. and France. The inscription on the statue by poet Emma Lazarus reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Why is the Statue of Liberty a UNESCO World Heritage site?

The UNESCO website states that “this colossal statue is a masterpiece of the human spirit.” The Statue holds in her left hand a representation of America’s Declaration of Independence, promoting freedom and democracy. Lady Liberty “endures as a highly potent symbol – inspiring contemplation, debate, and protest – of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy, and opportunity.

What can you expect on a visit to the Statue of Liberty?

As you board the ferry and take off for Liberty Island, you will enjoy coming closer and closer to the Statue of Liberty. The island was fogged in when we left the shore, but it lifted as we chugged through the harbor. Lady Liberty appeared, rising out of the water with the sun shining on her crown. This is an unforgettable experience. Just imagine the thousands of immigrants seeing the same sight as they arrived in the U.S.

Once you are on the island, the sheer size of Lady Liberty will astound you as you stand at her feet and look up. You can linger as long as you like, peeking at the Statue through the trees or staring in awe at this enduring monument.

Taken from below: the face of the Statue of Liberty, with her crown with points and her arm raised.

Is the Statue of Liberty worth visiting?

While you can view the Statue of Liberty from many boats that ply the harbor, it is an amazing experience to take the ferry to Liberty Island and see the Statue up close.

You can stroll around the base of the Statue. You can reserve a ticket to go up to the balcony of the pedestal for more exploration and a different view of New York City. And you can reserve a ticket to venture to the crown, high atop the Statue. Even if the balcony and crown are closed when you visit (as happens due to various circumstances), it’s still well worth a trip to the island. As you gaze up at the copper lady soaring 150 feet above her pedestal, you will be overwhelmed by the size of the sculpture and the detail. You can look at her from the front, the back, the sides.

Various tours and tickets are available here.

All ages are welcome and can enjoy a visit to Liberty Island. There’s plenty of grassy area for children to run around in. For those who have issues walking, benches are available for rest stops.

Tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty

Allow a few hours to catch the ferry to Liberty Island and walk around the Island. Also allow time to visit the Statue of Liberty Museum and Theater on the Island.

If you want to include a visit to Ellis Island, where the same ferry also stops, add another hour or two to your plans. Ellis Island was the immigration center for those arriving into New York Harbor, and it now houses an excellent immigration museum.

Read more here about both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: Ellis Island: Island of Hope, Island of Tears.

Use the map below to find accommodations in New York City:

Where is the Statue of Liberty?

The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island, south of the southern tip of Manhattan and between New Jersey and Governor’s Island.

For more information about visiting the Statue of Liberty and how to buy a ferry ticket, see its official website.

Text and photos are provided by Sharon Odegaard of Exploring Our World. Her articles often focus on the history of a place. Then, by sharing her photos, she inspires others to explore the wonders of our world for themselves. 

Have you been to the Statue of Liberty? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

Text: Statue of Liberty, United States. Images: above, the statur seen from the knees up; below, closer view of face and crown.

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