Lady Liberty


I have long wanted to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Yesterday, I did.

Ellis Island, in particular, fascinates me. The factory-like way between 5 and 10 thousand immigrants a day 1 seems rather dehumanizing. People were checked for anything which might cause them to become a public burden. As unsettling as the process might seem today, it’s estimated almost 80% of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were permitted to enter the country to live and work. Having become personally involved with the immigration process of the 21st Century, I can say Ellis Island would a step more human than the expensive mess we currently have in place. I need to go back again by myself and spend the bulk of a day at the museum, it’s fascinating.

Between Ellis and Liberty Island, I much prefer the former. Ellis Island encourages a contemplative frame of mind, calling upon visitors to put themselves in the shoes of those who left their entire world in order to travel to America in search of a better life. One doesn’t rush through Ellis Island, one explores. Because Ellis Island is an international icon, people from all over the world join together in their contemplations. Hearing so many languages echoing through halls contributes wonderfully to the attitude of reflection.

Liberty Island, on the other hand, is the land of selfie sticks. It’s incredibly loud, crowded, and disorienting. This is because there is one location on that island everyone wants to see, the statue itself. Finding decent angles for photographs, then, becomes a challenge. I literally saw people lying on their backs in the main walk, blocking all traffic, in order to frame their group in front of the statue. As a photographer, I can appreciate the need to get in a proper stance to frame a shot. As an introvert cringing at the press of the impatient crowd, I almost screamed 2.

We were unable to get tickets to ascend to the Crown, but were permitted on to the base of the statue. I do recommend ascending the base, but the view from the top of the pedestal is “meh,” at best. For photographers, the different angles which can be captured from the star-shaped base are much more interesting 3.

Ironically, most of my favorite photographs from the day are on Liberty Island. Despite the press of bodies, the statue absolutely dominates the island and it’s hard not to frame her in every picture taken. I did a full loop around the base, and was amazed by the detail in her construction. My favorite picture is below, where the trees give the statue some perspective. Lady Liberty certainly looks the part of the rising American Colossus, facing East toward the Old World. The rest of my photos from the day can be found in my Flickr album.

Lady Liberty rises from the trees

  1. During it’s peak years, anyway. 
  2. Also, I despise selfie-sticks. Who thought those would be anything but a cultural nightmare? 
  3. The statue’s base always looked like a military fort to me. Having now visited the island I can say, “Because it was a military fort.”