Last updated: December 8, 2017
Liberty Island Grounds: Self-Guided Tour
- Grade Level:
- Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
- Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
This self-guided program will tour you through the grounds and sculpture garden on Liberty Island.
After disembarking from the ferry, head towards the flagpole area. If students need to use the restroom, they are located in the gift pavilion on the right as you walk in. Once you are near the flagpole, walk towards the low wall and have students turn and face away from the statue and close their eyes. Ask them to think about the boat ride to the island and take a moment to think about how it made them feel to see the statue from the boat. Immigrants that arrived at Ellis Island many years ago saw the same sight. How do you think they might have felt upon seeing her for the first time? While you near the flagpole, you might also want to have students identify notable New York landmarks they can see in the harbor such as the Empire State building to the North West and the Brooklyn Bridge to the North East.
Make your way over to the sculpture garden by taking the path to the left of the security tent. Here you will be able to learn about the people behind the Statue of Liberty’s creation. In the garden, you will find sculptures of Laboulaye, Bartholdi, Eiffel, Pulitzer and Emma Lazarus. There is a ledge for students to sit on where you can discuss their role in the story of the statue. While you are here, you can recite a copy of Emma Lazarus’s sonnet the New Colossus. Ask students to share a word or words that they felt were very powerful from the poem.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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!”
Finally, you will continue heading down the path leading away from the sculpture garden and turn right. You should now be on the front lawn, facing the statue. From here you might want to ask your students about how the Statue of Liberty is viewed today. Have they ever seen her in a movie? An advertisement? A political cartoon? How is she perceived? What symbols make up her design and how does that affect how she is viewed? Another line of questioning could be a consideration of the statue’s enormous scale. How many student noses would it take to fill up her 4’6” nose? What buildings might the Statue of Liberty fit inside at 305 feet tall? Apart from being a great place for learning opportunities, the front of the statue is also a wonderful place to take photos with your class. When you have finished on the front lawn, simply continue taking the path to the right to catch the ferry and the restrooms.