The islands were closed during
Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and suffered severe damage. Liberty Island reopened July 4, 2013; Ellis Island re-opened October 24, 2013.Storm damage and the necessary repairs for them have heavily affected Ellis Island as hurricanes have become more common in the New York/New Jersey area.
The Statue of Liberty is a world-famous symbol of freedom, given in 1886 by France to the United States in celebration of
American Independence. Nearby Ellis Island was the first stop for millions of immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The national monument recalls this period of massive
immigration to the United States.
In 2007, a concession was granted to
Statue Cruises to operate the transportation and ticketing facilities, replacing the
Circle Line which had operated the service since 1953. The waters are patrolled by the
U.S. Park Police to enforce the restriction on private boat landings. Ferries depart from both parks and all boats stop at both islands, enabling passengers to visit both islands and choose either destination on the return trip.
Tickets can be purchased at
Castle Clinton in Battery Park or at the
Communipaw Terminal in Liberty State Park. Along with the ferry ticket, visitors intending to enter the statue's pedestal must also obtain a complimentary ticket. Those wishing to climb the 154 stairs to the crown within the statue must obtain a special ticket, which may be reserved up to a year in advance. Ten people per group, three groups per hour, are permitted to ascend, allowing for a total of 240 per day. After an obligatory second security screening, they may bring only medication and cameras, leaving all other items in lockers provided. Visitors intending to tour Ellis Island's south side, namely the
Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, must purchase a "Hard Hat Tour" ticket, which charges an additional fee on top of the regular ferry ticket.
In 2019, the NPS announced that starting on May 16, 2019, tour groups will be banned from certain parts of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, such as the Statue of Liberty's observation deck and the Ellis Island museum. The NPS cited overcrowding for its decision. Although only 1,000 of the site's 24,000 daily visitors travel to the monument within tour groups, the NPS stated that these groups tend to block pedestrian flow within the monument.
Liberty and Ellis Islands
Liberty Island and Ellis Island have been the property of the
United States government since 1800 and 1808, respectively. Historical circumstances have led to the unusual situation of Liberty Island and 3.3 acres (13,000 m2) of Ellis Island being
exclaves of New York, both completely surrounded by New Jersey. The dominion, jurisdiction, and sovereignty of the islands have variously been the subject of a colonial land grant, a provincial governor's directive, and an interstate compact, as well as several court cases and a
U.S. Supreme Court decision. The result of which is that the natural land masses including Liberty Island and the original acreage on Ellis Island are part of
New York City, and the 24 acres (97,000 m2) created by
land reclamation at Ellis Island belongs to New Jersey, all surrounded by the municipal borders of
Jersey City. Jurisdiction not superseded by the federal government falls to the appropriate state