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Lady Liberty to shine

The Legal Genealogist usually leaves general genealogy-related news to the sites and blogs that tend to do that far better, but there is awfully good news today for all us — genealogists and “just plain folks” alike — that as a resident of the greater New York area I just can’t resist mentioning.

Liberty Island is definitely going to reopen on the Fourth of July.

For those not in the New York area, Liberty Island — where the Statue of Liberty sits in New York Harbor — was horribly damaged last fall in Hurricane Sandy.

Liberty Island post storm (Image: National Park Service)

The storm surge in the October 29th hurricane put more than 75% of the island underwater and caused extensive damage to the passenger and auxiliary docks to the island. It uprooted most of the brick pathways, and it devastated the power system: the utilities, backup generator and power lines were totally destroyed.

There was no damage to the statue itself. It’s a remarkable tribute to the design work of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel that the iron framework installed 126 years ago to hold the statue in place did just that.

But the upshot of all that damage was that Liberty Island has been shut down, with not a single visitor allowed on the island, since the 29th of October.

But on the Fourth of July that changes. And you can even buy ferry tickets now — assuming they’re not all sold out! — from the National Park Service’s ferry concessionaire, Statue Cruises.

Tickets cost $17 for adults, $14 for seniors 62 and older, and $9 for children 4-12. Access to the crown costs an additional $3. Children under 4 are free. For ticket information and reservations, you can call 201-604-2800 or go to

Access to the crown is the best part of this, because that had been shut down for a year before the hurricane for needed upgrades to the fire system (alarms, exits, etc.) — and had only been open for one day when Sandy came visiting. Access to the crown requires advance reservations — and they’re undoubtedly going to go fast, so… a word to the wise. For more information and restrictions on crown access, see the National Park Service’s Crown Reservation Guidelines.

Ellis Island will have limited access this summer as well, but there isn’t even a hint yet as to when the Immigrant Museum may reopen. That building sustained massive damage in the hurricane, and the federal sequester sure isn’t helping with the planning for getting things done.

I’m very anxious to get out to Ellis Island to see how the Immigrant Wall of Honor fared. I know some panels were knocked loose, and my father and grandparents are honored there… I want to touch their names on that wall and know that their panel is still there.

Liberty and the Fourth of July. I can’t wait.

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