Spotlight on the Staten Island Ferry with stunning vistas of the Statue of Liberty

Staten Island Ferry is more than a means of transportation


Whenever I come to New York City, I want to see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is an attraction unto itself. For no charge, visitors can take a 25-minute voyage by water to see the Statue of Liberty. The iconic figure was donated by France in 1886 to the United States of America during the centenary celebrations of the American Independence.

Spotlight on the Staten Island Ferry with stunning vistas of the Statue of Liberty

How it all came to be

In 1865, a French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist named Edouard de Laboulaye took the initiative to present the United States with a statue symbolising liberty. The French Alsatian sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi supported his plan. In 1870, on his own initiative, Bartholdi began designing the Statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” using funds he raised in France and the United States.

Statue of Liberty symbolism

Atop the statue’s crown the 7 rays represent the 7 oceans and 7 continents of the world. The tablet in her left hand annotating the day of the American independence, July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals, symbolises America’s fight for liberty and freedom. To immortalize the end of slavery, Bartholdi added  chains and shackles at the feet of Lady Liberty to symbolise Liberty breaking free from bondage.

Location and work delays

While designing the Statue, Bartholi took a trip to the United States in 1871. Bedloe’s Island seemed the right location for the Statue. Although the islet in the Upper New York Bay was small, it was visible to every ship entering New York Harbour. The harbour considered to be the “gateway to America.” Bedloe’s Island was later renamed Liberty Island by an act of the United States Congress in 1956

The Statue of Liberty is made from copper sheets hammered into shape by hand. The copper sheets were assembled over a framework of four gigantic steel supports designed by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and finished by Gustave Eiffel, who later became famous for -yes, you guessed it – the Eiffel Tower in Paris. July 1884 saw the completion of the construction of the Statue of Liberty in France. When the Statue of Liberty arrived on board the French ship Isère on June 17, 1885 in New York Harbour, it had to be stored for 11 months in crates, due to ongoing work on its pedestal.

Spotlight on the Staten Island Ferry with stunning vistas of the Statue of Liberty
Spotlight on the Staten Island Ferry with stunning vistas of the Statue of Liberty

Unveiling the symbol of freedom

The pedestal was finally done on April 22, 1886, the re-assembly of Lady Liberty lasted only 4 months. On the Lady Liberty pedestal there is a tablet that has a set of words inscribed on it. These words were written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. “Give me your tired, you poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty “lighting the way, peacefully and lawfully” was unveiled by President Grover Cleveland.

After its unveiling the Statue of Liberty instantly became iconic. It began to feature on postcards, pictures, books, posters, and whatnot. Lady Liberty is still Enlightening the World, yet also educating people about freedom, inspiration and hope. Not only freedom in America but also the idea of freedom in other countries. 

A change to see Lady Liberty 40,000 times annually

When you take the ferry to Staten Island, and this pleasant trip should also be high on your NYC to-do list, you’ll use a form of transportation that existed in former colonial times. The Staten Island Ferry transported people between Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs long before bridges were introduced. Even now, the ferry is still the link that connects Manhattan with Staten Island and vice versa. Actually the ferry is the only non-vehicular mode of transport, thereby reducing vehicular pollution.

The Staten Island Ferry carries around 22 million passengers annually on a 5.2-mile run between the St. George Terminal in Staten Island and the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All for free. One thing it does extraordinary well travelling from one shore to the other, it offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty about 40,000 times per year. That is if you are up to it, of course.

Spotlight on the Staten Island Ferry with stunning vistas of the Statue of Liberty

Additional information

More info about the Staten Island Ferry
Plan your visit to the Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty
One more option to visit the Statue of Liberty and Statue of Liberty tickets

Tip: Did you know that in the capital of France, Paris, there are 8 replicas of the Statue of Liberty? And that Lady Liberty’s face is modelled after the artist’s mother? But that is another story.