If you’re finally going to visit New York City this summer you’ll have to check out at least two of the city’s major landmarks all on your own. Since May, commercial tour guides have been banned from giving guided tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island due to overcrowding so severe that officials worry it has degraded the visitor experience in the park. Commercial guided tours are now banned at the Statue of Liberty’s famed pedestal observation deck, the National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island and the newly opened Statue of Liberty Museum, though tour guides can still conduct outdoor tours on both islands, as well as in the Statue of Liberty’s lobby and mezzanine.
Great, first Stephen Miller calls bullsh*t on The New Colossus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty and now Lady Liberty won’t even deal with huddled masses of tourists.
All jokes aside, this is probably a good move. According to Afar, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island see a combined 4.5 million visitors annually and the National Park Service (NPS) has expressed that the large crowd of visitors arriving on commercial tours daily is obstructing traffic flow and causing conflicts with NPS operations and programming.
Commercial tour guides will, however, still be allowed to conduct outdoor tours of both islands and the Statue of Liberty’s lobby and mezzanine, though we can’t imagine those being as popular (or necessary). Between November and March, guides will also be able to deliver brief site orientation meetings for groups on the first floor of the Ellis Island Museum and anytime there are periods of cold and rainy weather.
It should be noted that the NPS does offer their own ranger-led tours of both sites, which are free and included in the price of a ferry ticket from Statue Cruises, the official transportation service that ferries people from Battery Park to Liberty Island, or you could just let your curiosity guide you and explore the whole thing yourself (our vote!).