Where Is The Statue Of Liberty Located and How to Get There: Unveiling Lady Liberty

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: May 28, 2023

The statue stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, but the location of the Statue of Liberty has sometimes been unclear. The history of Liberty Island, formerly known as Bedloe's Island, spans several centuries and reflects the evolving story of the United States. 

History of Liberty Island

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.

Liberty Island in New York Harbor

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.

The Intriguing Jurisdiction Debate: New Jersey or New York?

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.

Charting Your Course to the Statue of Liberty

Set Sail on Ferry Services

One of the most popular ways to visit the Statue of Liberty is by ferry, providing a scenic and convenient journey across the New York Harbor. Here's what you need to know about taking a ferry to Liberty Island.

  1. Official Ferry Service: Statue Cruises is the official and sole provider of ferry services to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The ferries operate from two departure points: Battery Park in Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Tickets for the ferry include access to both islands and their respective museums. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance from the official Statue Cruises website or at the ticket booths located at the departure points, as they tend to sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

  2. Schedule: Statue Cruises ferries run throughout the day, typically beginning at 8:30 am, with the last departure to the islands around 3:30 pm or 4:30 pm, depending on the season. Ferries depart every 20-30 minutes, ensuring visitors can catch a ride to the islands. Arriving at the departure point early is recommended to allow time for security screening and boarding.

  3. Onboard Experience: The ferry ride offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, and other landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and Governors Island. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes, giving you ample time to take photos, enjoy the scenery, and learn more about the history of the islands and the statue through the onboard audio guide, which is available in multiple languages.

  4. Accessibility: Statue Cruises ferries are wheelchair accessible, and crew members are available to assist passengers with disabilities. However, note that while the outdoor promenade on Liberty Island is accessible, the interior of the Statue of Liberty is not wheelchair accessible.

  5. Security: For the safety of all visitors, security screenings are mandatory before boarding the ferry, similar to those at airports. Be prepared to have your bags and belongings checked, and follow the guidelines on prohibited items.

Taking a ferry to the Statue of Liberty is a practical means of transportation and a memorable experience. Enjoy the New York Harbor's picturesque views and iconic landmarks as you sail on a journey to one of America's most cherished symbols.

Pedal and Stroll Your Way to Freedom

While there is no direct pedestrian or bicycle access to Liberty Island, you can cycle or walk to the ferry departure points in Battery Park and Liberty State Park. New York City's extensive network of bike lanes and the scenic Hudson River Waterfront Walkway in New Jersey make for enjoyable routes to the ferry terminals.

Private Tours and Charters for an Exclusive Experience

For a more personalized experience, you can book private tours and charters to visit the Statue of Liberty. These exclusive options often include a knowledgeable guide who can share insights into the monument's history and significance and additional stops at nearby attractions in New York Harbor.

Exploring the Attractions Around the Statue of Liberty

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. Make sure to include them in your visit to appreciate the area's rich heritage and diversity truly.