When Ryan and I tried to buy our tickets online, they were completely sold out. So, we took an early train from our cozy hotel down to an area on the southern tip of Manhattan called Battery Park. We were in such a hurry, we didn't even stop for breakfast. Fortunately, we were able to purchase our tickets on site without any trouble! To take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island, including the audio tour, it only cost us $20 each. What a deal!! We boarded the second ferry of the day, called Miss Liberty, and walked up to the top level. We stood by the railing and waited for the adventure to begin.
It was pretty amazing to see Staten Island, Manhattan, New Jersey, and Brooklyn all at once! My friend, Kim, had given me some advice about this tour. She said that you'll get your best pictures of Lady Liberty while you're on the ferry, so don't bother stopping there. Just go stay on the ferry until you reach Ellis Island. I am so glad we took her advice! After seeing the Statue of Liberty so many times in movies, it was fun to finally stand in her presence and snap some pictures of her magnificence!
After dropping off most of the people on our ferry at Lady Liberty, we continued the voyage out to Ellis Island. The building looked intimidating, beautiful, and mysterious all at once. I can't begin to imagine how people felt after being on a huge ship for weeks.
We walked into the building and found the area to pick out our audio tour equipment. Ok, maybe I'm way behind here, but I think audio tours are the next best things since white bread. Seriously! Remember going on field trips when you were a kid and having someone screaming and shouting information at you. Half the time you couldn't hear, and the other half you'd didn't care. The audio tour at Ellis Island lets you go at your own pace and learn as many details as you'd like. It was really awesome!
After leaving the lobby, Ryan and I went upstairs to find the Registry Room. This is where everyone lined up and the process of immigration began (before and after pictures below). It was so strange standing in that building. I know at least my father's grandfather came over from Italy through Ellis Island, and there are possibly others. I think that made the experience a little more intriguing and realistic. I learned that only people considered "Third Class" and some "Second Class" people had to come through Ellis Island. Those in "First Class" were allowed right into the country. Interesting, huh?