Taking the subway to the ferry for traveling to/from the islands. Walking approximately 5 miles; city streets and sidewalks.
In the hotel meeting room, we’ll have bagels, muffins, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, cold cereals, cream cheese, jelly, butter, plus milk (regular/low-fat), orange juice, coffee/decaf, tea, water. During breakfast, we will register with the MTA for a senior citizen MetroCard (if you are 65 or over). A representative from the MTA will take your picture and a copy of your driver’s license to process your permanent MetroCard application. They will give you a temporary card to use for the week, enabling you to ride for half price. A few weeks after you return home you will receive a permanent card in the mail — your official invitation to come back to New York and ride around for half price. If you have a permanent NYC senior citizen MetroCard, please bring it with you.
We’ll head straight out this morning to take best advantage of our time on Liberty and Ellis Islands where you may explore both iconic islands at your own pace to see and do what interests you most. We’ll begin by boarding the ferry to Liberty Island. An audio guide is included with each ferry ticket and can be picked up at the Acoustiguide booth on Liberty Island. Another short ferry ride goes from Liberty Island to Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was an amazing gift to the people of America from the people of France — our oldest ally — celebrating freedom and democracy. We’ve seen this national monument in countless movies and TV shows and may even take it for granted, but on the Fourth of July 1884, it was the biggest event in the country. Years later, these words of poet Emma Lazarus were added: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Our tickets provide access to the Statue of Liberty pedestal and the museum inside (not the crown). You will be able to explore Liberty and Ellis Islands at your own pace before we regroup in the afternoon. Both islands offer included Ranger and audio guides. The statue itself is 151 feet (46 meters) tall. Including the pedestal, it’s 305 feet (93 meters) from the ground to the torch. We’ll see it up close and imagine how millions of immigrants felt when Liberty greeted them.
This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. Both Liberty and Ellis Islands have cafeterias, with larger facilities and selections available on Liberty Island.
Then, it’s on to Ellis Island. From 1892 when the immigration station opened until it closed in 1954, more than 12 million people coming to America passed through Ellis Island. This was their “golden door” to new lives. Today, the descendants of these immigrants make up almost half of all Americans. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration tells the story of where people came from and what their experience was like. Many went first from Ellis Island to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at one time the most densely populated neighborhood on earth. We’ll meet on the front steps of The Ellis Island Museum to take the ferry back to Manhattan as a group, then take taxis back to the hotel.
At a neighborhood Chinese restaurant, we’ll have a family-style meal with choices of soup, appetizers, and entrées; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.
After dinner we’ll be joined by an architectural historian for a lecture on the history and architecture of New York City. We’ll begin to gain an understanding of all the five boroughs it comprises — the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island — each with its own history, personality, and appeal. Then we will walk over to the Empire State Building. From the 86th floor observation deck, we’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Manhattan street grid and all five boroughs with New Jersey in the distance (weather permitting). It’s a great way to orient yourself to New York’s geography and get your first “big picture” look at the city. The Empire State Building is just three blocks away. Our group leader will escort you there and you may return on your own when you please.