Hope. Freedom. Justice. The American Dream. That’s what the Statue of Liberty represents and whispers through her silent, unmoving lips, whilst holding the torch to guide the poor, the lost, and those in need to shore. This is the symbol of America. Recognisable everywhere in the world. A promise that more often than not lacks substance. Concepts such as hope, freedom and justice are subjective to interpretation.
As I like to see her, Lady Liberty stands for so much. She is an icon, a national treasure indeed. The true American sweetheart. But of course, she is French. Madame Liberté. And her dad was Édouard de Laboulaye. A man who spent his life studying the U.S. Constitution, an abolitionist and a supporter of President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. He was an ardent believer in the sacred right to freedom, spending much of his career pushing for the return of democracy in France.
After the United States reaffirmed its ideal of freedom and democracy at the end of the Civil War, Laboulaye proposed creating a monument for the country, hoping that would strengthen the cause for democracy in France. Laboulaye was also the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society and, in 1865, when the US passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, his hopes were high for the same to happen in France. This idea came to fruition ten years later. The statue was given the name Liberty Enlightening the World. The French people would finance the statues and the American people would do so for its pedestal.
The statue may seem very small from a distance – and honestly, compared with Manhattan’s skyscrapers, it is – but I remember very clearly what it was to be beside it years ago when I first visited New York. Yes, you can say it’s only 93 meters tall. But, damn, it’s 93 meters tall!
While I had been to the Statue of Liberty before, a trip to New York without seeing her seems somehow incomplete. The view needs to be viewed. And one of the best ways to do so is by taking a ferry to Staten Island. And why? Because it’s free! Probably one of the only things you don’t have to pay for. Of course, dozens of people take this ferry every day to go on with their lives – going to work, to school, returning home, etc. But lots of tourists like myself, wanting to save at least $50 on a boat trip just to have views of the statue, will take this as a chance to see it for free. And you should too!
The trip takes about 20 minutes each way, and it gives amazing views of the statues and the Manhattan skyline. You can also take a total of 40 minutes to relax your legs and simply sit down for a minute after a day of exploring – at least that’s what I did. When you do get to Staten Island, you can simply wait for the next ferry – I believe there is one every half hour and I was told we should avoid rush hour, which I did. It was definitely a great experience. I’m sure Staten Island also has things to do and see, but my legs couldn’t afford much more that day. So bought an overpriced cup of fresh fruit (this was a hot day and I felt my sugar levels were low) and waited for about 10 minutes for the next one. All photos on this post were taken from the ferry – get yourself on the right side, upper level, for the best views!