We manage to get up fairly early in the morning so we can head down to the south tip of Manhattan down at Battery Park from where we can take the boat to Liberty and Ellis Islands. We got the tickets for the boat yesterday so we can go straight to the line for the boat. Unfortunately we miss the first boat but we are close to the front of the line so we easily make it to the second boat. We just need to go through the security first which is pretty much the same as you would see in an airport.
We get onboard the boat and we start the sail. As we sail towards Liberty Island we get a good view of downtown New York the Brooklyn Bridge and New Jersey which is located just across the Hudson River. We arrive at Liberty Island where we pick up a free audio tour of the island. We walk around the statue of Liberty and listen to the information about the island – the audio guide is pretty informative and tells a lot of the history of the island and the construction of the statue. We walk slowly around the island while we take photos of the area and listen to the story about this amazing statue which is probably the best known statue in the world.
We have finally come full circle and then it is time to go and catch a ferry to Ellis Island. It is only a short sail from one island to the other so we get off at this historical island. Unlike Liberty Island there is a big building and exhibition here about the history of the island where so many millions of immigrants were landing in America.
There are a lot of displays about the history of the immigration to America and how the people were greeted when they first came to America. The first place people came were a huge hall which was probably the biggest room for all the new immigrants had ever been in before – maybe with the exception of a cathedral in their homeland. Interestingly it was only the third class passengers who had to go to Ellis Island the second class and first class passengers went through immigration on the ships so they didn’t have to wait in the lines at Ellis Island and go through all the checks before they might be accepted as a new resident of the USA.
The new arrivals had to go through a medical check to make sure they didn’t have any infectious deceases or any mental defects. The staff at the island had actually made test for mental capabilities which didn’t require the people to be able to understand English. On average only around 2 percent of the people coming were turned back to where they came from because of health and other reason.
The exhibition on the island is pretty big so it takes a while to go through it all – and there is actually a special exhibition about Danish immigrants to America – the exhibition only opened today so if we had made it to Ellis Island yesterday as planned we would have missed this exhibition. There are a lot of charts about how well Danish immigrants have made it in America – and it turned out they in pretty much every category had done better than our Swedish and Norwegian neighbors and other people from Europe – obviously I wasn’t surprised by this fact.
There isn’t much selection of food on the island so we decide to wait until we make it back to Manhattan. It has taken pretty long to go around and exploring the big complex so it is a bit late for lunch when we finally make it back with the boat to Manhattan. We head up to China Town to get some Chinese food for our lunch. I kind of expect the Chinese food here to be better than what we can get in Copenhagen – which isn’t great. We get some selection of barbeque including suckling pigs which is pretty difficult to come by in Copenhagen. The food is decent but it isn’t up there with the Chinese food in Hong Kong and other places in Asia.
After lunch we go to midtown to have a look at the big buildings in this area – we head to the Rockefeller center to go to the top of the Rock. But it turns out there is a two hour wait for the next available slot to go up – by which time it would be dark so we couldn’t get much of a daylight view of the town if we went up then. So we skip it and head over to Broadway and walk down to the pedestrian area around Times Square.
It is getting late – and we head back down to the bottom of Manhattan to catch a Staten Island ferry. The Staten Island ferry is one of my favorite free things in New York – you can just go onboard the ferry and get a free ferry ride to Staten Island while you can enjoy the Manhattan skyline. I think this is a great way to see the lights of New York after dark without breaking the budget. When we get to Staten Island we don’t leave the ferry terminal – instead we just head back on the next ferry.