January 18th, 2011

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Poem for Tuesday, Liberty and Ellis Island

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I spent another fabulous day in New York with my family and dementordelta, starting with an early ferry ride from New Jersey to Ellis Island, where my great-grandparents and some of Paul's great-great-grandparents arrived in the U.S. I'd never been there before and found the museum fascinating -- there's a film, a large central area tracking immigration throughout the peak eras, and several rooms of exhibits ranging from ship manifests and medical forms (including the mental tests immigrants were given to determine basic competency) to items carried from the old world and family photos. The enormous Registry Room has been restored to a somewhat later date than my relatives would have arrived, but it's still amazing to see the size of it. It's impossible for me not think politically about the shifts in immigration policy since, and the attitudes even among children of first-generation immigrants, not that I have any perfect solutions to propose.

Then we took the ferry to Liberty Island, where we ate lunch at the restaurant (they have veggie burgers, yay) and walked up the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which is nearly half the height of the entire statue. The views both of the statue itself and of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island are spectacular, and there were lots of birds -- seagulls, pigeons (who were walking around inside the ferry trying to mooch food), sparrows, Canada geese -- to watch as well as people from all over visiting Lady Liberty. I enjoyed the museum there a lot too, which focuses on the history and building of the statue but also has commemorative souvenirs and Liberty in popular culture. After taking the ferry back to New Jersey, we drove home down the Turnpike and I-95, watching both Bridget Jones movies while in the car (Colin Firth: awesome, Renee Zellwegger: trying hard, Screenplay: ick). There was a winter storm forecast for after midnight, but it had already started by 6 p.m., and we got home in snow that has turned to sleet and may delay school. So ends our holiday weekend!


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