The elaborate structure was completed in July 1884 and was then assigned to the American Ambassador in Paris, but it took many months until - against a lot of resistance - the sum necessary to build the pedestal was collected in the US. The pedestal was completed in April 1886, the installation of the statue, which had temporarily been in storage on the island, began soon thereafter. In a grand opening ceremony on 28th October 1886, President Grover Cleveland handed the monument over to the city.
In the course of the years, Liberty Island was often the setting for special events, was occupied by political activists several times, but mostly it was maintained and renovated again and again. Statue of Liberty became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Lady Liberty was closed for the public and it was thought that it would remain closed indefinitely due to the fact that there were no appropriate security measures in case of a panic. This ban was lifted in 2011, but the number of visitors allowed onto the island daily now is strictly limited. Every day, 240 visitors are allowed inside the statue but it takes a separate ticket for which reservations have to be made.
These visitors, but also those who just want to go to Liberty Island without going inside, are subject to strict security measures similar to those at the airport. The ferries of Statue Cruises, which are the only ones allowed to land on the island, depart from Battery Park in Manhattan and from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The rates currently are (December 2013) $17 for a return ticket, access to the island itself is free. Ferries depart in a 20 minutes rythm daily between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm and also land at the neighboring Ellis Island.
Ellis Island used to be home to the Immigration Office, in which millions of arriving immigrants between 1892 and 1954 had to pass an examination. In 1907 alone more than a million people arrived here and up until today about one third of the American population can trace their family history back to this island. Almost all immigrants arriving here were allowed to continue their journey into the country upon registration, only some 2% of applicants were refused and had to travel back to where they came from, because they carried diseases or because the officers did not believe in their ability to take care of themselves in America. Although this percentage is comparatively low, Ellis Island was nicknamed “Island of Tears” by some. After 1924, Ellis Island was primarily used as a prison island and later as a deportation camp for Germans, Italians or Japanese, who were suspected to be spies.
Today, the main building of Ellis Island is home to a very recommendable museum exhibiting and documenting the history of immigration to the USA in general and the role of Ellis Island dokumentiert. Access to the island and visit8ing the museum is possible by using the ferry to Liberty Island, ferry tickets also include entry to the museum.
The former Immigrant Hospital, where immigrants were brought who were suspected to carry contagious diseases is not open to the public. This hospital was the workplace for medicinal inspectors who watched the immigrants when they climbed a flight of stairs to the main building and when they suspected a disease, they marked these individuals’ clothes with chalk.