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Fall Into The Season at New Jersey’s Liberty State Park
In a part of the world best known for tall buildings and bright lights, New Jersey’s Liberty State Park provides a lush oasis for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. But that doesn’t mean this park, located next to the Jersey City shoreline, isn’t a bright, shiny star all on its very own.
With the New York skyline as its backdrop and less than a half-mile opposite from the magnificent Lady Liberty herself, this beautiful New Jersey green space draws visitors from both near and far. In fact, the area where Liberty State Park stands has played an important historical and hope-filled role in the region for generations. This was the very harbor where many of our European ancestors first caught sight of America. And, in New Jersey, if you needed to cross the bay or the Atlantic or just get across town via the Central Railroad of New Jersey, there was a good chance you made your way here. The park itself opened in 1976 to commemorate another historical moment: the bicentennial.
Much like its more famous neighbors and popular NYC attractions—the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island—the 1,122-acre Liberty State Park took quite a blow during that big storm of ‘12. It’s estimated the park suffered at least $20 million in damages during Superstorm Sandy and that it will take until sometime next year to complete all the necessary repairs.
But you can’t keep a good park down – at least, not for long.
Today, Liberty State Park continues to serve a vital role in the New York Harbor area. There are over 300 acres of Liberty State Park dedicated to public recreation including boating, fishing (including crabbing!), barbecuing, picnicking, cycling, running, rollerblading, kite-flying and playing touch football each fall. Although some of the park’s most popular spots are still closed for repairs, The Liberty Science Center is up and running and offers “scientists” of all ages a chance to get their geek on. This interactive museum and learning center, stationed at the northwestern entrance to the park, is home to numerous educational activities and is the home to the largest IMAX Dome theater in the world.
Liberty State Park is also home to Empty Sky, a memorial dedicated to the New Jersey residents who died in the 9/11 attacks. The memorial includes twin 30-foot-high walls with the names of all 746 New Jersey victims inscribed upon them. The two walls stretch 208 feet and 10 inches, the exact width of the Twin Towers, representing the towers as if they were lying on their sides. Between the walls lies a granite path directed toward Ground Zero.
New York CityPASS holders should note that they can use their Statue Cruises ticket from Statue Cruises’ Liberty State Park departure point. Statue Cruises is the official concessionaire for the Statue of Liberty and the only way to get to and from Liberty Island, where you can depart the boat and explore the island, getting fantastic up-close views of Lady Liberty. Ellis Island is still undergoing repairs due to damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but as soon as it reopens, Statue Cruises guests will also be taken to Ellis Island to visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
And as for city parks near other New York attractions included in CityPASS? The always-wonderful-whatever-the-time-of-the-year-it-is Central Park is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, and the American Museum of Natural History is across the street from Central Park at Central Park West and 79th Street. And be sure not to miss the amazing views of Central Park from Top of the Rock (50th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues) and The Empire State Building (34th Street and 5th Avenue). From the Empire State Building, take a short walk seven long blocks west to reach the Hudson River, where you'll find a park on the riverbank. Madison Square is ten short blocks south and Bryant Park is seven short blocks north and one long block west.