Liberty and freedom

9 May 2014

Regular blog readers will know that I have recently returned from a visit to Canada – lecturing at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in St Catherines – and decided to spend a few days in New York. Never having visited the United States of America, it would have been quite rude to simply connect to another flight at JFK Airport, I decided!

During my stay in Brooklyn, I was graced with some decent weather and probably walked the best part of 6th Avenue from 52nd Street (Central Park) to the site of the World Trade Center and onward to Battery Park City and the South Ferry. Seeing the Statue of Liberty from Manhattan is simply spectacular and it is not surprising that, since its dedication in 1886, the statue has captured the imagination of people in the United States and abroad. At its inception, it was meant to stand for the special friendship and the political dream of liberty shared between France and the United States.

Momentarily, I considered whether the cost of US$18 to go across to Liberty Island and see ‘Lady Liberty’ close up was a sensible plan or not. Err, yes! And even better than that, the ticket included a trip to Ellis Island and audio tours of both venues. Highly recommended!

Ellis Island is a place of names …. a genealogist’s paradise. Millions of immigrants called out their names on Ellis Island before they stepped ashore onto America’s soil. It was, for most, an Island of Hope and a brief stopping point on the way to a better life. The island tells a story and to stand in the Registry Room where the immigrants were inspected when they first arrived in America, was a moving experience.

The Ellis Island website can be searched by the name of an ancestor or the ship they travelled on with passenger records, ship manifests and images of ships available to download. Definitely worth a few hours of your time….!

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