Though She’s a Bit Stiff, She’s New York City’s Greatest Hostess!

There are infinite things to do and see in New York City, depending on your age and interests, though a couple of those things are really “musts” for everybody. One of those “musts” is the Statue of Liberty. She is the most recognized face the world over, and a grand symbol of the American Dream. Like all great monuments, “Liberty Enlightening the World” (her given name) makes a HUGE impact on those who see her in-person, even if they’ve seen photos a thousand times.

When making our advance plans for the trip, I researched the Statue of Liberty to find out what we needed to do to visit. Basically you just have to go through Statue Cruises to purchase a ferry ticket to the Statue and Ellis Island. You have to decide if you want to depart from Manhattan or New Jersey, and you have to decide if you want Monument Access. Basically, Monument Access means that you get to go into the Statue of Liberty museum AND you get to go up to the observation deck in the pedestal, which is just below the very bottom of Lady Liberty (photos coming up!)*. The Monument Access ticket doesn’t cost anything extra, but they only have a limited number of those in each time slot. If you don’t have Monument Access, basically you can ride the ferry to Liberty Island and walk around on the outside only, and of course visit the gift shop.

Unfortunately, Jim and I hemmed and hawed about which day and time we wanted to visit, because we were trying our best to determine when it was going to rain on our trip, and we got locked out of any chance of Monument Access. Shoot.

“Oh well,” we thought, “no big deal. We’ll still get to see her.”

I bought tickets for Monday morning at 9:00, and we jumped on the subway early to stop at Ground Zero beforehand. The last time I was in New York (with Julesie), they were just really starting to rebuild there. This time, it was full of activity and if I didn’t know that it was Ground Zero, I may not have thought anything about the construction area…

…until we started walking away from it and accidentally came upon the gorgeous (and terribly sad) memorial to the firefighters who fell on September 11, 2001. I can’t tell you how moving it was to stand there, under the scaffolding that was set up for repairs or painting (or something) on the building it was installed on, just the four of us, nobody else around. We took some time to read the tributes and take some photos, and then walked on.

We continued on to Battery Park, which is where we had to catch the ferry to the Statue. Did I mention how gusty it was outside? It felt like winter.

We were all wearing fleece shirts over our regular shirts, and the three of them were wearing their rain jackets over that (I didn’t bring a jacket: just an umbrella. Idiot.); normally this is not a problem. The wind, however, was CUTTING through. It was crazy. We looked at the waters and couldn’t believe how choppy it was. We were never so excited to get inside a building to be screened for security.

You can guess how the ferry ride went. It’s a good thing that none of us are prone to motion-sickness, because it would have been ugly otherwise! (Although the boys and I had a bit of fun singing the SNL digital short “I’m on a Boat”)

Upon arriving at Liberty Island, we were told that if we had Monument Access (boo! we didn’t!), we could proceed to the second security area for screening. If we didn’t, we could enjoy (in this wind? Nuts.) the outdoor activities. Bah, humbug.

We noticed a sign advertising “Free Park Ranger Tours” of Liberty Island. I said to Jim, “Why not?” So we went to the flagpole to meet the ranger and found that we were four of six in the tour, the other two being an exasperated mom with her hyperactive little boy. It was practically private!! Our tour guide (Jim the Ranger!) was awesome, and he gave us a 40-minute tour that included the entire history of the Statue. It was very informative and we learned so much that we had no previous idea about. For example, did you know that Lady Liberty is actually posed as if she is *walking*, and she has broken shackles around her ankle that can only be seen from above, like in a helicopter?

After our tour we got to ask questions, and Jim the Ranger took a family photo for us.

He also treated us to an extra special bonus when he uttered these magical words:

“You’ll be happy to know that I give people who put up with me for 40 minutes access to the Monument, and I even cut them in front of the security line.”


So cut in line we did! The museum was really cool; the original torch is there. They built a new one during the 1986 restoration of the Statue, one with gold leafing on it (looks much better!).

We also saw molds they used in the restoration process, and a actual-sized foot, so we could see just how huge her tootsies are.

After looking around in the museum, we were excited to go up into the pedestal. It was something like 180-something steps up. The younger boy asked, “Don’t they have a climb like this in the John Hancock building?” (For charity) I replied, “Yes, but you have to go up just a couple more steps than this.” (By about 84 floors)

When we got to the top, we got to look up her dress. We’re not pervs; everyone was doing it.

From the observation level, we got some great shots of the Manhattan skyline,

and closer-up views of Lady Liberty from beneath her, which sounds terrible. But you know what I mean. It was dizzying, leaning backwards over the wall of the deck to take these photos. I hope you appreciate how I risked barfing for you people.


Hey, how about you enjoy these great shots I got after climbing back down?


Lastly, on the ferry ride back (we had been there for three hours and voted to skip Ellis Island on this trip), we actually discovered the orchestra from the older boy’s high school! On the same boat! Crazy!

More pics, and a video too:


Holy Liberty, I think that’s enough for today! More vacay scoop is on the way tomorrow…stay tuned!

*Visitors used to be able to go all the way up to her crown, but years ago that practice was discontinued. Apparently there is a movement to get the crown reopened, but after the day I spent there and all I learned, I disagree with it. The Statue of Liberty was not built anticipating that 20,000 visitors each day would want to go up into her crown (that’s their average number of visitors per day!); that’s a lot of usage. Too much usage for that kind of thing. I say, keep it closed and protect the integrity of the structure.



  • Kat

    How awesome is it that “Ranger Jim” granted you access to the monument?

    You know what I’v been wondering? With the Lady being a gift from the French and you looking up on her…had she shaved armpits? LOL That was stupid…I know but fun. Prejudices…ah well. I had a good laugh.

    Glad you had such a great time.

  • The Best of New Jersey


    You noted,”The Statue of Liberty was not built anticipating that 20,000 visitors each day”. I agree! How would you like 20,000 people a day walking around in your head!


  • Dea

    So jealous – the only time I’ve been to NYC, I wasn’t able to go to the Statue of Liberty! I’m determined to get there, though! Looks like a blast, despite the cold!!

  • NukeDad

    That is too funny! You guys took the EXACT same route we did when we took my Mom there in 2007. That brass memorial to the fireman was very cool. Did they still have the ball sculpture from the WTC in Battery Park? We did liberty island also, for about 3 hours (also) and skipped Ellis island (also). Copycat!

  • Anonymous

    Grandma W — It looked like a beautiful day cold or not you are a Chicagoian at heart so remember you don’t get cold just chilled. “Chicken and the car and the car won’t go”

  • Isabella

    I’ve never been to NY, but have dreamed about it for a long time. Thank you for detailing your trip to the Statue of Liberty…looks like a lot of fun! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    From Dawn:

    Sounds great so far! Can’t wait to read the rest…but really, Melisa? Didn’t you learn your lesson when we went to Chicago a few years ago about NOT taking a coat or jacket? Remember that? 😉

    Love ya!

  • NYCity Mama

    Very nice! My younger boys haven’t gone there yet, I plan on waiting till they are ready to take the hike up the stairs. I agree they should keep access to the crown closed, though I got to go up before they closed it and it was nice, but it was enclosed and sort of a bummer to not be able to step outside. Nice pictures!

  • WeaselMomma

    “When we got to the top, we got to look up her dress. We’re not pervs; everyone was doing it.”~ And if everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump too?

    Very cool post.

  • Michelle

    Oh very cool. I love that you got the access anyway AND got to go in front. I’m going to have to remember to ask for Ranger Jim 😉

    And that wind? Ugh, it’s as bad as ours, isn’t it? When we were there Jan last year, it was BRUTAL. I can only imagine the boat ride.

    And those pics? Yeah, I could only look at a few of them. Serious dizzy issues!

  • Sheri

    Great pictures! When I went to NYC in college, our teachers that scheduled the trip did not have time for a visit to see her, which was a shame. Thanks for sharing your visit!

  • Mrs4444

    It seems every American should spend some time in NY, at least to see Her.

    I agree with you on the crown thing!

    BTW, I have included your contest in my Friday Fragments post scheduled for this week.

  • Sue

    Awesome pictures! THanks for risking your safety to get the up close and personal ones!
    Yay for Ranger Jim too!!!!

  • Katie

    Wow that is really super cool!! That is actually one thing I’ve never done – all of my NYC friends told me that you couldn’t go up the statue anymore since 9/11, and recommended that I just take the Staten Island Ferry to view the statue instead, because it was free. That’s the only view I’ve ever seen of it… next time, I am totally going this route!