‘New Jersey’s gift to the nation’ — The opening of Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park, one of the jewels of the New Jersey State Division of Parks and Forestry, opened on June 14th, 1976. The Jersey City park is just a few hundred feet from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and offers pretty impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.
The land at one time was a transportation hub with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal located in the park. The are had fallen into disuse with abandoned railroad tracks, abandoned buildings, and brownfields taking dotting the area. Jersey City gave the state the first 165 acres where the park now stands and the rest was acquired by local, state, and federal funds. The park now occupies over 1200 acres. It opened with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts raising the flags of the 50 states at the park’s entrance. Governor Brendan Byrne dedicated it as “New Jersey’s gift to the nation” for America’s Bicentennial.
The park offers ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, as well as walking, biking, picnicking, and fishing opportunities. The park is also home to the (privately owned) Liberty Science Center and while it has been a while since I’ve been there, my recollection is that it is an amazing place. For bonus points, the famous scene in The Godfather that features the “leave the gun, take the cannoli” line was filmed where Liberty State Park now stands.
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