Emma Lazarus was born on this date in 1849. A native New Yorker, her sonnet “The New Colossus” would be engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal that supports the Statue of Liberty. The words, and the Statue that held them, would welcome millions of immigrants to this “land of the golden promise,” a phrase used by Nikola Tesla as he prepared to set sail for America.
On a recent trip to New York I shot this rather different photo of the Statue of Liberty. Look close, to the right of the post, but don’t ignore everything else that the picture tells us.
From 1892 to 1954 most immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island; before that they entered through Castle Garden Immigration Depot on the southern end of Manhattan. Ellis Island, below, now joins Liberty Island itself to be part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
I leave you with Emma Lazarus’s poem:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”