A Visit to the Statue of Liberty, Done Differently

The Statue of Liberty has welcomed the world to New York Harbor since 1886
The Statue of Liberty has welcomed the world to New York Harbor since 1886 | © tarabird / Getty Images
Photo of Alex Wexelman
Staff Writer10 December 2019

The lizard-green Lady of the Harbor is a sight to behold, but once you’ve circled the great statue there are tons of activities to take advantage of in lower Manhattan where the ferry drops you off. Make a day of your visit to Lady Liberty with Culture Trip’s guide on things to do, eat and drink around this New York City landmark.

The Statue of Liberty

Historical Landmark
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The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Upon entering New York Harbor, waves of immigrants were first greeted by a colossal Neoclassical sculpture personifying freedom: the Statue of Liberty. Its plaque famously features an inscription from poet Emma Lazarus with the text of her sonnet ‘The New Colossus.’ Inspired by work she was doing to help Jewish refugees who had fled anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe, Lazarus wrote the lines that would forever be associated with Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The Statue of Liberty, gifted to the US by France and dedicated in 1886, was originally a brassy brown, but over the years its copper body has oxidized and turned green like a penny in a fountain. From the southern tip of the island of Manhattan you can get a view of the statue, but the best way to see her is by boarding the Staten Island Ferry, which is free and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It arrives every 30 minutes from South Ferry outside Battery Park in lower Manhattan. Travel time is approximately 25 minutes.

Things to do near the Statue of Liberty

National Museum of the American Indian, New York

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National Museum of the American Indian
The George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian occupies the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House | © Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian is a Smithsonian Institution devoted to educating guests on the diversity and breadth of the Native peoples of America. Manhattan was named by its original inhabitants, the Lenape, who were eventually removed by the Dutch in the 1700s, according to WNYC, and their history is as integral to the island as that of anyone who came after them. The museum’s permanent collection, called the Infinity of Nations, is organized by geographic regions and contains more than 700 items, including headdresses, moccasins and sacred arrows for offerings.

Charging Bull Statue

Memorial, Park
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Charging Bull Near Wall Street
Arturo Di Modica illegally dropped ‘Charging Bull’ off at the New York Stock Exchange in 1989 as a tribute to the ‘American dream’ | © Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images
In the world of Wall Street, a bull market is a term used to describe a market on the rise, charging forward, the opposite of the receding bear market. At the tip of Bowling Green park rests the three-ton bronze sculpture dedicated to the tenacity of the financial world. Sicilian artist Arturo Di Modica illegally dropped the Charging Bull off at the New York Stock Exchange at the end of 1989 as a tribute to the “American dream,” of which he felt he was a disciple. The piece of “guerrilla art” was installed by Di Modica and some friends who helped move it out of a flatbed truck, according to a New York Times article from that day. The statue was conceived following 1987’s “Black Friday” stock-market crash in the hopes of inspiring those who came in contact with it to steadfastly keep fighting for their dreams despite hard times.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum

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One of the two pools that are part of the National September 11 Memorial
One of the two reflecting pools that were originally the bases of the Twin Towers | © Gado Images / Alamy Stock Photo

It can be hard to fathom the events of September 11, 2001, and the fallout from what occurred, but the 9/11 Memorial & Museum dutifully honors those who perished and the first responders who arrived at the scene. Located on the site formerly occupied by the World Trade Center, the 110,000-square-foot museum offers a somber examination of the events of that tragic day told through artifacts, imagery, personal stories and interactive technology. Two reflecting pools, in what were originally the bases of the towers, buttress the museum and commemorate the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks. While visitors will have to purchase tickets to the museum itself, the memorial is free and open to the public.

Trinity Church, Broadway

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Trinity Church
The spire and cross that tops the historic Trinity Church is 281 feet tall | © Anthony DelMundo / NY Daily News via Getty Images
Walking through the Financial District, it’s impossible to miss the 281-foot (86-meter) spire and cross atop the historic Trinity Church. The current church is the third iteration; construction on it was completed in 1846. It was New York’s tallest building for more than 20 years, until it was usurped by the New York World Building (1890-1955). On the property of the Episcopal church is the Trinity Church Cemetery, the burial site of Alexander Hamilton and other early Americans. Its St Paul’s Chapel, despite being just a quarter mile from the World Trade Center site, was unaffected by the fallout of 9/11 and acted as a safe place of rest for recovery workers following the attacks.

Woolworth Building, Broadway

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Woolworth building, Lower Manhattan
The Woolworth building was an early skyscraper that was the tallest in the world for 17 years | © Matej Kastelic / Alamy Stock Photo
Nothing lasts forever, but for 17 years the Woolworth Building held the title of tallest building in the world. From 1913 to 1930, this 57-floor behemoth ruled the heavens; however, the skyscrapers of the following two decades easily surpassed it. Still, it is a sight to behold. Architect Cass Gilbert – who designed the building for FW Woolworth, owner of the eponymous retail store – is also known for designing the United States Supreme Court Building and the Saint Louis Art Museum. The neo-Gothic crown resembles those of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, and its thousands of windows make it a standout among the other TriBeCa towers. The lobby is open to public tours, though you can experience this early skyscraper from outside for free.

Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York

Memorial, Museum, Park, University
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Jewish Museum in Battery Park
The Museum of Jewish Heritage covers life before, during and after the Holocaust | © jackietraveller / Alamy Stock Photo
The Museum of Jewish Heritage, subtitled A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, is an opportunity for people of any background to learn more about the history of the Holocaust. Outside Israel, New York has the world’s largest population of Holocaust survivors – yet a recent study suggests that many adults lack even a basic understanding of how 8 million people, 6 million of whom were Jewish, were systematically murdered. Take this opportunity to, as the museum’s mission states, learn about the “broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries – before, during, and after the Holocaust.” It achieves this through its collection of more than 25,000 items related to Jewish history and modern Jewish life, including personal photographs, letters and life-event announcements.
These recommendations were updated on December 10, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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