Essential NYC: Guide to the Statue of Liberty (2024)

The Statue of Liberty is among New York City's—and America's—most familiar landmarks: a massive copper-and-steel cast of a green lady raising a torch, clutching a tablet and donning a seven-point crown. Some visitors miss out on seeing the statue up close because it's set on a government-run island in the middle of New York Harbor and only accessible by boat, but it's easy to work into your trip with some advance planning.

The monument welcomed generations of immigrants to the United States as they passed through nearbyEllis Island, the nation's main entry station between 1892 and 1924 (it eventually closed in 1954). ItsAmerican Family Immigration History Centercontains millions of passenger arrival records and hundreds of ship pictures from the time; anyone whose family arrived in America this way, or who has just a passing interest in the nation's immigrant history, will find the museum an excellent bonus to a statue trip—or a reason to visit in its own right.


The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States as a token of goodwill for America's centennial of independence (and to send a message to France's oppressive Second Empire). Historian Edouard de Laboulaye first proposed the idea in 1865, shortly after the Union won the American Civil War. He then teamed up with French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, an admirer of the US, democracy and colossal monuments. When designing Liberty Enlightening the World (the statue's official name), the duo were careful not to make Liberty appear to be "leading an uprising" but rather "lighting the way, peacefully and lawfully," according to park service literature. They started construction in Paris in 1875 and shipped the completed pieces 10 years later, in 1885. On October 28, 1886, a million New Yorkers cheered the official dedication. Since then the statue has been a symbol of freedom, justice and opportunity for those who come to New York City and America.

How to get there

Statue Cruises runs the official ferry from the Battery to Liberty Island (and Ellis Island, as well). The ferry is the only way to reach the island, and generally leaves every 20–25 minutes. You can find more schedule info at

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Photo: Julienne Schaer


The simplest way to enjoy your time on Liberty Island is to just walk around. You can take great snapshots of the statue from the grounds and read the educational plaques scattered throughout. Inside the pedestal are multiple sightseeing levels of the base; reaching the crown requires visitors to climb 146 spiraling steps from the top of the pedestal. The views of the Hudson River and Lower Manhattan through the crown windows are something you'll never forget. And the latest addition to the island, the Statue of Liberty Museum, is worth checking out for its interactive displays, gallery with Lady Liberty's original torch and green roof with a viewing platform.

Essential NYC: Guide to the Statue of Liberty (3)

Photo: Julienne Schaer


You can purchase tickets online at statuecruises.comor in person at Castle Clinton in Battery Park; there are several options. The basic ferry ticket, which includes grounds entry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island and the museums at both, is $24. All online tickets include "priority entry" for the ferry (read: they should get you in faster) and audio tours for both islands. When the statue is not at capacity, there are walk-up sales—but it's highly advisable to purchase tickets ahead of time.

Specific tickets are required to access the pedestal and crown (note that pedestal-access tickets do not include access to the crown but crown tickets do include entry to the pedestal). They are first-come, first-serve, so you'll need to book them in advance—at least two months for the crown; more like a week or two for the pedestal (sometimes more for the prime morning times)—and note that you cannot purchase crown or pedestal tickets on Liberty Island itself.


There are a limited number of wheelchairs available to borrow for free on a first-come, first-served basis at the statue. The departure locations and ferries are accessible to those using wheelchairs, but there is no elevator from the statue's feet to her crown.

Nearby Fun

The only attractions on Liberty Island itself are the Statue of Liberty, the museum, a gift shop and some food concessions—but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself in Lower Manhattan, where the boats arrive and depart.


Stone Street, said to be the City's oldest paved street, is home to Harry's NYC, Adrienne's Pizzabarand Beckett’s Bar and Grill, to name a few choices.

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Photo: Will Steacy


, Stone Street Tavern, Ulysses' Folk House and Dead Rabbitare all popular options.


The area is packed with historic sites including Federal Hall National Memorial, built on the site where George Washington was inaugurated, and City Hall, the oldest still-functioning building of its kind in the nation.

Junior Ranger Badge

Kids should check out the National Park Service Junior Ranger program, which allows them to earn a Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Junior Ranger badge during their visit by completing an activity booklet. (It's a good idea to download and print the booklet before your visit. It's popular, and the park often runs out of copies early in the day.)

Social Media

The statue's official Instagram account is@statueellisnps.You can search by the #statueofliberty, #libertyisland and #ellisisland hashtags for ideas of what to explore and to find particularly photogenic angles or locations in the park.

Fast Facts

• In 1885 the statue was completed and displayed in the streets of Paris, and was briefly a major tourist attraction in its original home. It was then disassembled and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to New York Harbor.
• From the bottom of the base to the tip of the torch, the pedestal and statue stand 305 feet tall. That would have made it the tallest building in NYC at the time it was built; today, it wouldn't rank among the top 250.
• The inscription on the tablet in Lady Liberty's left hand reads "July IV, MDCCLXXVI" (July 4, 1776).
• Liberty Island was formerly known as Bedloe's Island, after Dutch merchant Isaack Bedloo. It briefly came under control of the French before being handed to the state of New York and, finally, the federal government—who built fortifications on the island to protect the harbor.
• Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus" was written as part of a fundraising effort for the statue. Eventually, it was engraved on a plaque placed inside the base of the statue in 1903.
• Bartholdi is responsible for two other statues in the City: one of Marquis de Lafayette in Union Square Park (also a gift from the French government), and one of Lafayette and George Washington just east of Morningside Park at 114th Street.
• The statue is made out of copper, and turned greenish blue because of oxidation (rust) early in the 20th century.
• The copper skin weighs more than 62,000 pounds.
• Gustav Eiffel (yes, that one) designed the interior structure to keep Lady Liberty upright. He worked on the project from 1879 to 1883.
• Americans had to pay for the pedestal, and fundraising was a challenge. Joseph Pulitzer saved the day with a six-month fundraising campaign via his New York World newspaper, which attracted mostly small donations from everyday citizens.
• Bartholdi claimed he modeled the face of the statue after his mother, Augusta Charlotte.

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Photo: Julienne Schaer

In order to visit the Statue of Liberty, you must purchase tickets throughStatue Cruises—they are the only company licensed to sell tickets for the Statue.

Essential NYC: Guide to the Statue of Liberty (2024)


What do I need to know before going to the Statue of Liberty? ›

Planning Ahead For Your Visit

The National Park Service strongly recommends making advanced ticket purchases. Tickets secured far enough in advance allow visitors to select their desired level of access and eliminates the need to wait in line to purchase tickets at the Battery (NYC) or Liberty State Park (NJ).

How much time do you need at the Statue of Liberty? ›

To fully experience the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, & Ellis Island, you should plan to spend at least 5-6 hours exploring all the attractions.

Where is the best place in NYC to view the Statue of Liberty? ›

Where can I get the best views of the Statue of Liberty? The blog post lists nine spots, including the One World Observatory, The Battery, Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry, Louis Valentino Jr. Pier and Park, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Governors Island, Green-Wood Cemetery, and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

How do you get a good view of the Statue of Liberty? ›

BEST VIEW: Hands down, the best view on land is from atop One World Observatory. Located in the southern most part of Manhattan, it's the closest observation deck to the Statue of Liberty, giving you the most intimate view possible from land.

Is the ferry to Statue of Liberty worth it? ›

Taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty is an absolute must! Not only does it offer unparalleled views and incredible experiences - it's also a great opportunity for some iconic pictures with Lady Liberty herself! Don't forget your camera – this is an experience not soon forgotten!

Can you bring a backpack to the Statue of Liberty? ›

Food and drink are not allowed inside the Monument. Strollers, backpacks, and large umbrellas are not allowed in the Monument.

Is there a free ferry to the Statue of Liberty? ›

The Staten Island ferry takes you right past the statue for free, while those on bigger budgets can reserve a room with a view at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel.

What is the fastest way to see the Statue of Liberty? ›

The Liberty Super Express sightseeing cruise is the easiest and fastest way to get up close to the iconic Statue of Liberty and back from Downtown NYC. Departing from Pier 16, South Street Seaport, every 60 minutes beginning at 11am, you will experience the magic of Lady Liberty in all her glory in just 50 minutes.

Which ferry is best for Statue of Liberty? ›


Still, without a doubt, this is the best view of the Statue of Liberty you can get for free.

Is it worth it to go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty? ›

Twenty-five windows in the crown look out at the surrounding New York Harbor. Visiting the crown of the Statue of Liberty is a rewarding activity. Due to its extreme popularity, tickets to the crown must be reserved prior to visiting. There are a limited number of crown tickets per day.

Is it worth going up in the Statue of Liberty? ›

Book your tickets for Lady Liberty's crown well in advance

For those who want to view Manhattan from the inside of the iconic crown, I can tell you it's a fantastic way to experience the statue and see New York Harbor.

How much money does it cost to see the Statue of Liberty? ›

OptionChildren Under 4Adults 13+
FERRY FEE:$0$25.00
CROWN ACCESS:Restricted$25.30
2 more rows

Do you need ID for Statue of Liberty? ›

Tickets are non-transferable.

The names of those in your party must be provided at the time of purchase. Each ticket holder will be required to show photo ID (except minors without ID) matching the name printed on the ticket prior to entering the Statue of Liberty.

What to wear when visiting the Statue of Liberty? ›

Be sure to dress in layers in case conditions change suddenly. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking a great deal during your visit. Visitors to the Park are required to submit to airport style security screening before boarding vessels departing from Ellis Island.

What can you do when your at the Statue of Liberty? ›

Visit the Museum

The museum contains an immersive theater, and various historical artifacts including the original torch from 1876, and allows visitors to share what liberty means to them through interactive panels. Access to the museum is available to all visitors on Liberty Island.

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