The project cost $250,000, took 10 years to complete and aroused interest throughout the world. Not a day went by without some curious visitor dropping in to see Bartholdi in his studio. The completed statue which towered above the houses of Paris, had to be taken apart again and shipped over in 214 cases. It was officially unveiled by President Cleveland on October 28, 1886. The 300-foot statue (including the pedestal) attracts millions of visitors each year.
A short way beyond Liberty Island on the ocean side lies Ellis Island, which played a rather special role in the history of America. More than half the immigrants who arrived between 1892 and 1924, that is, some 12 million people, went through screening here to be turned back or allowed to enter the New World. Before Americans set up consular missions abroad, there was no preliminary selection, and everyone who took passage did so at his own risk. An official in a bad mood, an overconscientious doctor, or an eye infection contracted on the voyage might cause the hopeful immigrant to be rejected.
The island is now abandoned, and it’s hard to picture the painful scenes that took place in these empty, austere buildings. This island of tears has been declared a historical monument and was opened to the public in 1976. A ferry runs from Battery Park, leaving three or four times a day from May to October.