Sunday, August 12, 2012

New York - Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Buskers - July 22, 2012

My second and last paid for tour begins with the subway ride to Battery Park. We take the ferry to Liberty Island. No one can climb the Statue of Liberty, which is made of very thin copper that turned green a long time ago.

Here's a quote from the United States National Park Service website.

The lady who promises freedom
The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

The Statue of Liberty, along with Ellis Island, is site #93 on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Here's what the National Park Service  writes about Ellis Island.

They came seeking freedom, opportunity, new lives. More than 12 million immigrants passed through the doors of Ellis Island between January 1, 1892 and November 1954, hoping to achieve the "American Dream". These people have woven their way into the fabric of American life. They have helped create the America we know today.

Where those seeking opportunity waited for acceptance
As we ride the ferry to Ellis Island, I've made up my mind; the New York tours I've purchased are a waste of money. I'm giving our guide a tip; I'm leaving the group and going off on my own.

When we arrive at Ellis Island I do what I think is the right thing, I give the guide a five-dollar tip and let him know I'm leaving the tour. He asks, sort of insists, that I stay. I stay with the group for about five minutes, ask myself why I'm staying, and quietly leave.

I plan, and do, spend a long time on Ellis Island. As I walk through the various rooms I develop a sense of what is was like to enter the United States by way of this place. I'm certain I'm not alone in my learning experience. Through the use of photos, personal, anecdotal information from those who were actually went through, and a film, which is introduced by a park ranger, the museum does a good job of telling its story.

When I walked from room to room, as those who have arrived from Europe via steerage had once done, in the back of my mind I thought I would have travelled first class or second class. Those travelling first and second class did not need to go through Ellis Island. They were interviewed and examined on board ship.

When the ranger introduced the film, he asked how many of us had flown to New York first class. No one raised his or her hand. This put things into the right perspective. I would have been in steerage. I would have had to relinquish my luggage, risking its loss. I would have been subjected to an interview regarding my financial situation, my health both physical and mental and my ability to support myself. Really, not much different than today. Only, today the process is conduct in one's home country. As long as you arrive legally, you are not sent home.

At the turn of the 20th Century, it took approximately two weeks to travel from Europe to New York. Those in steerage awaiting admittance to Ellis Island might be in harbor for two weeks. Processing once on Ellis Island took from three to seven hours. Although some were turned away, most were welcome into the United States.

Ellis Island is a wonderful tribute and story of what those who desire a better life will go through in order to get it, and shows the best that America offers.

When I arrive back at Battery Park there is a free concert going on. The group is talented. In another area of the park, I find another busker he is playing a musical instrument I've never heard before, from the orient.  I travel by subway to Greenwich Village where a quartet is singing classic rock songs like My Girl. In front of another park there is a talented bagpipe musician accompanied by a drummer.

Further on, I think near Columbus Circle, there are a group of Tango dancers.

I take videos of all these performers and make a small movie called Sunday in New York.  This is my first attempt at producing a video clip. So, if you view it please try not to be too critical.

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