With the opening of the brand new Statue of Liberty Museum on Friday, May 16, 2019, it’s a great time to take a Martz Bus to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A gala celebration officially dedicated the museum on Wednesday, May 15. Many celebrities showed up for the event. These included Jeff Bezos, Tony Bennet, David Letterman, Oprah, Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, among many others. The 26,000 square foot museum was built for $100 million and took over 2 years. It has three main areas. One shows a film, another exhibits unique artifacts, pictures and photos, as well its centerpiece, the original torch carried by Lady Liberty. The original torch was replaced in the 80s due to leaks. Then there is a digital station, where guests can leave comments on what liberty means to them personally.
Anyone on Liberty Island can visit the new museum. You do not have to have a ticket for a statue tour. The Statue of Liberty draws 4.5 million visitors each year. But since 9/11, the National Park Service has restricted the number of tourists allowed inside. Tours to the torch have stopped altogether. After the restrictions, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation decided to offer something new. Tourists can now go the crown after making a reservation on statuecruises.com. But everyone who would like to hear the real story behind the Statue of Liberty can now do so by visiting the museum.
The New Statue of Liberty Museum
Visitors will hear about how French builders constructed the 150-foot statue, and how it became the definitive symbol of freedom across the world. They will also hear the story of how the French designers wanted the statue to commemorate the abolition of slavery in America. Most people think of the statue as a symbol of immigration. But an early model by French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi shows Lady Liberty carrying broken chains in her left hand, in a clear nod to emancipation.
The statue was modeled after the Roman goddess Libertas, who is usually seen donning a Phrygian cap, a traditional hat worn by former Roman slaves. Some years after opening, it became a symbol for the massive waves of people looking for a better life in America. With the new museum, visitors can once again get up close to the original torch the statue held when it was first erected in 1886. The original torch was replaced in the 1980s due to leaks. The Statue of Liberty opened on October 28, 1886. This was six years before the US government opened Ellis Island, which served as an inspection station for 12 million immigrants over the next decades.
The Ellis Island Museum
Ask park rangers at Ellis Island for information on the history of immigration in New York Harbor. You can also get started tracing your family history, and take a scheduled guided tour and watch a film on the island’s history. Please check the information desk for times. You don’t need tickets needed for walking tours, which typically last 35 minutes. The three-floor Ellis Island museum chronicles the experiences of immigrants on the island and the history of US immigration as a whole.
Its first floor exhibits are the Baggage Room, Journeys: New Eras of Immigration 1945-Present, Journeys: The Peopling of America 1550-1890, as well as the American Family Immigration History Center. Audio guides are available. You can visit the theater, gift shop, bookstore, and the Ellis Island Café. The Second Floor includes the Great Hall, the Hearing Room and Theater 2. It also has two exhibits: Through America’s Gate and Peak Immigration Years: 1880-1924. The third floor has the Bob Hope Memorial Library, the Dormitory Room, and exhibits called: Ellis Island Chronicles, Treasures From Home, Restoring a Landmark and Silent Voices.
Self-guided audio tours are available for both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. They are included in your ferry ticket. Audio tours are available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, German, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, and Portuguese. There are also kid-friendly audio tours (ages 6-10) in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Italian, German, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, and Portuguese. Special descriptive audio tours are available for the vision-impaired, and tour guides are on site who are fluent in American Sign Language.
Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex
Another popular thing to do is taking a Hard Hat Tour of the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex. This is a 90-minute guided tour across select sections of the 750-bed Ellis Island Hospital. You will visit the Laundry Building, which still has much of its original equipment. Over 3,000 pieces of laundry were cleaned daily in this structure. You will also tour the infectious and contagious disease wards, kitchen, staff housing, autopsy room, and others. One more exhibit features life-size historical photos of Ellis Island immigrants displayed on 22 interior walls. Hospital tour tickets cost $53.50 for adults and $49 for seniors. The ticket price includes the ferry. The ferry trip from Battery Park to Ellis Island takes around 15 minutes. If you stay on board without visiting the monuments, it will take about one hour and fifteen minutes.
Getting to Ferry Departure Points
Port Authority, the main gateway for interstate buses into NYC, sits at 625 Eighth Avenue between 40th St. and 42nd. The station is one block west of Times Square, and one block east of the Lincoln Tunnel. It is the biggest bus station in the country and the busiest in the world.
From Port Authority, you can get to Battery Park by bus, subway, taxi, rideshare, or by walking.
- Walk – If you are feeling up to it, you can go on foot from Port Authority to Battery Park but it is a 6.2-mile hike. This should take you around 1 hour or a bit more.
- Bus – Public Line 149 bus takes 17 minutes.
- Subway – Your most cost-effective option would be to take the Line 1 subway.
The trip will take 30 minutes. It has a big red train as its logo.
- Taxi/Ride Share – A taxi or ride share will take 9 minutes in moderate traffic. A cab ride will run you between $29 – $40. A rideshare – about $18 – $25.
Public Transport from Ferry Departure Points
Public transport is available anywhere to and from either Statue Cruises ferry departure points.
Buses M5, M15, and M20 make stops at South Ferry. Walk westward, or follow signs for the Statue of Liberty ferries.
Several subway stops are near Battery Park.
– Trains 4 and 5 stop at Bowling Green.
– The R train has a stop at Whitehall Street. – Train 1 train stops at South Ferry station.
* These are popular attractions and if you want to see both, you should do it on the same day. Take an early ferry if you plan to see both in one day.
** You can visit Liberty Island with a ticket, but you now need a reservation to go to the pedestal or crown.