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Congressman Sires, Senators Menendez and Booker, Announce Nearly $6M to Improve, Expand Statue of Liberty Ferry Service from Liberty State Park

Aug 9, 2019
Press Release

NEWARK, N.J. – Congressman Albio Sires (N.J.-08) along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, the Ranking Member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, and Cory Booker today announced the awarding of $5,900,000 to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) to make upgrades and improvements to the ferry docks at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ) located at Liberty State Park. The updates will increase dock space to six docking points for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferries.

“This project will help improve the ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, allowing more people to enjoy these landmarks and learn about our diverse history as a nation,” said Rep. Sires. “For myself, and so many more, the Statue of Liberty represents what our families saw when they came to America, a place of freedom and opportunity.”

“The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are lasting symbols and tell the story of our nation’s vibrant immigration legacy as a country founded by and built upon immigrants coming here for a better life and a chance at the American dream,” said Sen. Menendez. “Millions visit these historic landmarks each year. Modernizing ferry service to and from the islands will allow more tourists to share in the experience while also strengthening our local economy. As more and more people learn about our rich immigration history, it’s my hope that it will lead to greater tolerance and acceptance of the new wave of immigrants settling in our nation.”

“Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are beacons of hope and freedom to the entire world,” said Sen. Booker. “Millions of Americans and tourists visit these historic sites each year and are reminded of how this country was founded as a land of new beginnings and opportunity for people from all races, creeds, and religions. Making much needed upgrades to the islands’ ferry service will improve the experience for those visiting these powerful American symbols.” 

After Ellis Island opened as an immigration processing center in 1892, the CRRNJ was often the next stop for new immigrants before settling in New Jersey or traveling to other parts of the country. By 1900, the terminal accommodated up to 50,000 people per day between ferry and train services. Because of a decline in train travel, the CRRNJ declared bankruptcy and ended passenger operations by the late 1960s.

By the next decade, the terminal and surrounding area was purchased by local, state and federal funds and a massive cleanup campaign began before the building was added to the State and National Register of Historic Places.

Tourists from across the world now use the CRRNJ terminal to catch ferry service to visit the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the 12 million immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island.