The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island From The Jersey Side

“From the Jersey side? No, you’re kidding! I don’t want to go from Jersey!” I wailed out dramatically when I realized I was buying tickets to Lady Liberty too late. All the tickets to the Statue of Liberty from Manhattan are sold out already!

“Argh, I am so stupid! Why did I do this?” I click furiously and make my reservation from Jersey City to the greatest symbol of liberty, instead of the preferred Battery Park in NYC. If you stick with reading this blog posting you may find some useful information for your trip to the Statue of Liberty should you be planning one. Just learn from my mistake, I suppose. 

I am still annoyed at myself this morning when I wake up to start the day. I still can’t believe I missed my chance to get tickets to the statue from Manhattan. That irritation at myself has me a bit edgy. We have to leave our borrowed Manhattan apartment this morning, and that involves making breakfast, packing everything, and cleaning the apartment into a better state than we received it. Our car must be picked up from the parking garage at 9 am, and we are ready barely in the nick of time.

As we leave the parking garage we get into an altercation. Not with someone else, but with each other. You know, not every vacation can go without a hitch, at least I can admit it. It all ends with a coup of sorts.

Mr. Handsome is our driver this morning, and when I tell him to turn left out of the parking garage, however, he insists that I said he must go right first and then make a left at the nearby light. Which is NOT what I said. 

I end up raising my voice when telling him to turn left, and that didn’t turn out too well. Anyway, to make a long story short, the kids and I decide to not allow him to drive in the New York City area anymore. It is too stressful, plus we could use his good navigation skills. We just have to figure out a way to implement our coup without him catching on.

In the meantime our ferry to Lady Liberty doesn’t depart until 2 pm. I really can’t figure out a good way to get to the Liberty Park terminal in Jersey City by public transit from Manhattan, nor do I know how long it might take to get there driving through mid-morning traffic. For this reason we decide to head straight over to Jersey City and spend the morning at the Liberty Science Museum. It’s right next to the ferry terminal, and I have that ASTC science museum annual pass, so we can get in for free.

You may imagine my face when we see the row of schoolbuses in the science center parking lot. There must be 50 of them! It’s the first day of June and schools are bringing their kids on year end field trips, I guess! As far as I know this is not a school bus storage lot. There has got to be a ton of kids in the museum!

You know I love kids and everything, goodness knows I have plenty of them myself! But I have to be honest! I couldn’t be a teacher for more than a day! The screaming kids would drive me bonkers. In fact, I have a confession to make. In all of my child rearing years I have gone on only one field trip, and that one was with my oldest son. I got such a massive headache from all the screaming that it was the first and final field trip I ever went on with my kids.

I try to reassure everyone that it will be just fine. No worries. And sure enough, there are no line ups at the ticket booth. I get my free tickets with no trouble at all today, and in we go…… to a gaggle of screaming, raucous children. 

We can scarcely see an exhibit if our lives depended upon it. On a day without 50 bus loads of kids this place might be fun, but today it’s purely misery. The teachers are yelling at the kids too, and I hear one threatening a kid. I have never seen teachers being so rough with kids before. Maybe teachers in New York are different? Why do kids feel compelled to scream instead of talk in a normal voice?

We do find an interesting display on the river systems here in the New York area that grabs my attention. We found some of these critters on the beach in Florida one time.

My kids have some fun messing each other’s hair with the wind generator simulator.

We learn a little about the power of water.

We see a piece of mangled iron from the World Trade Center that went down on 9/11.

The museum has a really interesting display on the process of building skyscrapers.

Every time I touch a display I envision all the little kid germs all over my hands. We have to get out of here before we all get sick. We all breathe a huge collective sigh of relief when the last screams of the children fade away behind the closed doors when we leave. My hat is off to teachers, I tell you! That’s not my forte!

As soon as I step outside I have a thought that makes me cringe. What if there’s hundreds of screaming school kids on the ferry we are about to embark upon?

Soon enough I find out some of the better facts about taking the ferry from the Liberty Park in Jersey City as opposed to Battery Park in Manhattan, The first is the availability of parking, the second is the low cost of parking (only $7 per day compared to $50 per day in Manhattan). Top that off with the relative peace and quiet and serenity of this place, nd I am very quickly glad that we came here to catch the ferry. Thank goodness I was so stupid that I didn’t book my tickets early enough! There is a fantastic view of Manhattan from Liberty Park.

There is an old railroad station where the ferry tickets may be purchased, presuming they are available for that day. Of course we are prepared with our tickets. All we need to do is board the ferry.

Once onboard we get an even more fantastic view of New York City.

Our first stop, of course, is Ellis Island. It doesn’t take me too long to discover another reason to be happy about taking the ferry from Jersey side. The lineup on Ellis Island for the Battery Park (Manhattan) ferry is really long, but for the Jersey side there is no wait!

There appears not to be hordes of screaming school children at Ellis Island, which likely is because at 2 p.m. most of the school groups have already been here and done that, and are soon returning to their schools. Most of the websites that I saw as I planned this excursion recommended booking an early morning tour to see Lady Liberty.  If you ask me, I would say that if it’s high season for school field trips, skip the early morning tour and go in the afternoon. Most of the school groups should be gone by then. We will still have plenty of time to see and enjoy everything without our ear drums bursting.

I love the architecture on Ellis Island. Architects used to be so creative! 

Soon enough we find ourselves inside the immigration museum of Ellis Island. The tour includes a very informative audio headset, which really helps to bring the museum to life. As you may already know, Ellis Island is where immigrants were screened and processed prior to allowing entrance into the United States. The immigrants underwent health inspections and various other questioning to determine their suitability for acceptance into the country. The first part of the processing occurred in this large hall here upon conclusion of an arduous crossing over the ocean. 

The audio tour includes stories and experiences of immigrants who were processed here. Perhaps some of the stories are depicted in such a way as to elicit the listener to feel that America should allow all persons to enter her borders without scrutiny, which fits the modern day narrative, which is all well and good, I suppose. 

I should know, for I am an immigrant. A many times over immigrant. I was born in Australia to immigrant parents. We moved to Finland when I was 5. We were immigrants in Canada when I was 6. Then I became an immigrant again when I moved to the United States in my early 20’s. 

Now interestingly, when I became an immigrant into the United States, my American born husband had to sign an affidavit of support that stated that I would not be allowed to collect any government asssistance for 10 years. No welfare. No disability. No housing benefits. No free healthcare. No social security benefits. No food stamps. No Obama-phone. 

And speaking of immigrants, I often wonder why when an American becomes an immigrant they don’t refer to themselves by that term. Instead they call themselves a much gentler term known as an “expat”. Is that an expatriate? Or an ex-patriot? Who knows. An immigrant is an immigrant unless you’re American, just so we are clear! 

We spend about an hour and a half touring the facility, and then enjoy a quick picnic lunch outside. While eating I reflect upon the great privilege that I have to be able to live and work and raise my family in this great country, what I often like to refer to as “the last great bastion of freedom” on this earth. 

It’s easy for us to board the next ferry to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. That’s because we came from the Jersey side and there are no lineups. In no time at all we are at our destination. 

Lady Liberty proudly holds up the torch of freedom, beckoning the poor and weak and destitute and downtrodden. 

I hadn’t told anyone that I have tickets to the pedestal, so I have a pleasant surprise in store. 

There is an audio tour included in the ticket price. 

The views from the pedestal are incredible. 

The GoPro captures an interesting perspective. 

It’s really windy up here. Look at Annika’s hair blowing about! 

The pedestal is a busy place! 

This is Lady Liberty’s guts. 

I love the GoPro. Check out this photo we capture of a seagull flying by the Statue of Liberty!

My eye catches this old poster. Okay fine! I will leave! Not the country, but this island! 

And so it is that very shortly we are back on the ferry headed to New Jersey. Remember there are no long lines for the Jersey ferries today!

Busy tourists are all doing their touristy things!

I decide to get carried away with my camera taking photos of my mionions. 

Jasmine and Aundrea are very close sisters, but life has forced them to live thousands of miles apart. This time together is very precious. 

It only takes a few minutes, albeit rocky ones, to get back to the ferry terminal at Liberty Park. Jersey City is shimmering in the distance in the late afternoon light. 

And away across the mighty Hudson is Manhattan in all its glory. 

I snap a few more photos as the rest of the tourists disembark. 

Now one piece of information that I think might be of value to someone someday. When you board the ferry at the Statue of Liberty there are two choices, of course. One is a ferry back to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, and the other is the ferry back to Liberty Park in Jersey City. You really do want to pay attention to make sure that you get on the right ferry.

Now, assume for a minute that you were an idiot like me and did not book your tickets on time, which means you have to leave on your Lady Liberty excursion from the Jersey side. Now also assume that its much more convenient for you to end your trip in Manhattan. If you can get yourself to Liberty Park by one form of transportation or another without driving yourself, you could just as well “accidentally on purpose” take the ferry back to Lower Manhattan. They don’t check your tickets. So in other words, it is perfectly possible to leave to the Statue of Liberty from one ferry station, and finish your excursion at another. Once you have boarded the first ferry no one will be checking your tickets again.

Oh, and you didn’t hear that from me. And yes, we are on the right ferry, back to the Jersey side, although as we boarded the ferry we had rather loudly asked each other if this is the ferry to Manhattan, and agreed with each other that indeed it is, just to create a little confusion for the other travelers.

In this photo you can see the Jersey City ferry station across the Hudson River from the Battery Park station in Manhattan. Make no mistake about it, if you accidentally bring yourself to the wrong place it’s not an easy fix. 

Just a few more shots of a super handsome dude and we are on our way. 

Soon enough we are back at our car, which is safe and sound in the very large and inexpensive parking lot. You may remember that I formed a coup earlier today with the kids, and we decided to ban the man of our household from driving in big cities for the rest of the trip. Jasmine is a great driver, and since the East Coast is familiar to her, she takes the wheel. Our coup does not go unnoticed, however, and David is offended to have lost his driving privileges. Indeed, while this may be the land of liberty, there are some liberties that just can’t be granted if we are to maintain peace.  No worries, he will forget about it soon.

Once we are back on dry land we take a detour into Jersey City for some coffee. We leave Jasmine sleeping in the car while we run in to get our drinks. While I am in the coffee shop she calls me to say that she noticed an officer was writing up a parking ticket behind the car, so she jumped into the driver’s seat and left. Maybe they will send the ticket to the car rental company, one can never know.

While we drive away from Jersey City I give the kids two options. One is to stay in New York and camp tonight on Staten Island under a bridge, and the other is to head towards their aunt’s place in Philadelphia. The vote comes in unanimously in favor of camping in New York City, and so it shall be. What could better top off a trip to the ultimate symbol of freedom, an excursion to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, than tent camping in the middle of one of the biggest and most dangerous cities in America?

Let’s do it! We shall see if I get any sleep tonight!


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