The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The island is between New York State and New Jersey, although it is officially part of New York City. The closest landmass to Liberty Island is the southern tip of Manhattan, followed by Jersey City, New Jersey. Before its current name, Liberty Island was known as Bedloe's Island.
To reach the Statue of Liberty, visitors commonly take a ferry from one of two departure points: Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan in New York City or Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. The ferry service is operated by Statue Cruises, the official provider of tickets and tours to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The ferry ride offers views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the surrounding areas, including the skyline of Manhattan.
Liberty Island is accessible to the public and offers amenities such as a museum, gift shop, and dining options. The island itself is 14.717 acres in size. Adjacent to Liberty Island is Ellis Island, which houses the National Museum of Immigration. Many visitors visit both islands in a single trip, as they are closely related in historical context and proximity.
The Statue of Liberty faces southeast, oriented to greet ships entering the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. Specifically, it looks over Upper New York Bay, the Hudson River, and the East River. The orientation also allows the statue to face towards France, the country that gifted the statue to the United States.
Although the statue is located closer to New Jersey than New York, it has been under the jurisdiction of New York City since an agreement between the two states was reached in 1834. The federal government has jurisdiction over Liberty Island, and the National Park Service is responsible for its administration and maintenance.
Before the arrival of European settlers, the island was inhabited by the Lenape Native American tribe. In the early 17th century, the Dutch colonized the area and called the island "Great Oyster Island" due to the abundance of oyster beds in the surrounding waters. The island changed hands in 1664 when the British took control of the region, renaming it "Bedloe's Island" after Isaac Bedloe, an English merchant.
In 1746, the island was sold to the City of New York, and it was later leased to the federal government for military purposes in 1758. The military used the island as a defensive point to protect New York Harbor. Fort Wood, an 11-pointed star-shaped fort, was constructed in the early 19th century to bolster the island's defenses.
As the United States grew and solidified its relationship with France, the idea of a monumental gift from the French to the American people took shape. The Statue of Liberty, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was proposed as that gift, symbolizing the friendship between the two nations and their shared values of freedom and democracy.
In 1877, Congress approved the use of Bedloe's Island as the location for the statue. The island's strategic position in New York Harbor made it an ideal place for such an iconic monument. Once the decision was made, construction on the pedestal began in 1883, using the existing Fort Wood as its foundation.
The Statue of Liberty was completed in France in 1884 and then disassembled, shipped across the Atlantic, and reassembled on Bedloe's Island. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and the island was officially renamed Liberty Island in 1956 to honor its famous resident.
Today, Liberty Island is a national monument managed by the National Park Service. It attracts millions of visitors each year who come to admire the Statue of Liberty, learn about its history, and enjoy the panoramic views of New York Harbor.
Although the Statue of Liberty is often associated with New York City, it's worth noting that the monument is geographically located in the waters of New Jersey. However, due to an 1834 compact between the two states, Liberty Island is under the jurisdiction of New York. This unique arrangement has resulted in a fascinating border dispute, with both states claiming the famous landmark as their own.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a must-do in New York City, but there are plenty of other nearby attractions you should consider adding to your itinerary. From historical sites to beautiful parks, these attractions allow you to further immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the area.
Ellis Island: Just a stone's throw away from Liberty Island, Ellis Island is home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. This historic site was the nation's busiest immigrant processing center from 1892 to 1954. The museum offers a glimpse into the experiences of the millions of immigrants who passed through its doors searching for a better life in America.
Battery Park: Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a beautiful 25-acre green space offering stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. It's an ideal spot for a stroll, a picnic, or to relax and enjoy the scenery. The park has several monuments and sculptures, including the East Coast Memorial and the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum: A short distance from Battery Park, you can visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. This poignant tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks offers a space for reflection and remembrance. The outdoor memorial features two reflecting pools in the footprints of the original Twin Towers, while the museum provides a comprehensive and moving exploration of the events and their aftermath.
One World Observatory: Located atop the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Observatory offers a breathtaking panoramic view of New York City and beyond. With floor-to-ceiling windows and state-of-the-art technology, visitors can learn about the city's history and landmarks while enjoying an unforgettable sight.
South Street Seaport: A historic district in Lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport offers a unique blend of old and new. The cobblestone streets and preserved 19th-century buildings house various shops, restaurants, and museums, including the South Street Seaport Museum. The area is also home to the famous Pier 17, which hosts events, concerts, and outdoor activities during the warmer months.
These attractions and the iconic Statue of Liberty create a well-rounded experience of New York City's history, culture, and natural beauty. Ensure you include them in your visit to appreciate the area's rich heritage and diversity.