On this very day in 1986, Lady Liberty celebrated her Centennial. This year, the queen of the New York Harbor turns 127 and continues to reign supreme. She salutes most of NYC’s five boroughs, is a reminder to appreciate our lives in America and draws our attention beyond the mean streets to the waterways at her feet. Once she catches your eye, chances are you’ll spot a ferry ushering commuters from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island, kayakers launching from Brooklyn Bridge Park or day-trippers heading to Governor’s Island from one of its ferry terminals. This will be especially true on Saturday, July 20, when the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance hosts its 6th Annual City of Water Day on Governor’s Island, in celebration of the many opportunities for aquatic fun and relaxation with FREE waterfront (and on-the-water) activities.
On land, enjoy live music and bites from the City’s best food trucks (think Arepa Lady and Wafels and Dinges), learn about the City’s sewer system (seriously, it will boggle your mind) with the Center for Urban Pedagogy or ask company partners from Highview Creations about green roof systems and stormwater capture. Enjoy the harbor breezes with a free boat tour or conquer the tides yourself in a kayak or canoe. (You may even spot some of NYSOM’s favorite aquaphiles — The Gowanus Dredgers — who will be paddling around the harbor all day!)
While you’re on Governor’s Island, head to the northeast corner (where Castle Williams sits), so you can get a good look at Lady Liberty. Since her 100th birthday — and thanks to a restoration project spearheaded by President Reagan in which even the torch was replaced — the world-renowned statue shines in a brighter spotlight. At the re-lighting ceremony on the eve of Independence Day 1986, he remarked, “It is not only the friendship of two peoples but the friendship of all peoples that brings us here tonight. We celebrate something more than the restoration of this statue’s physical grandeur.”
And Reagan’s words continue to ring true: While Governor’s Island is undergoing its own restoration project, friends of the waterways will be on hand to encourage and teach us all about the many ways we can enjoy the water that Lady Liberty stoically watches over.
To watch President Reagan’s re-lighting ceremony on July 3, 1986, check out the video below.
With reporting by Miranda Lanzillotti.