It was from the symbolic vantage points of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monuments that NPS staff witnessed the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
Confronted with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline under siege, park staff were acutely aware that both the Statue and Ellis Island represented potential targets. Despite their fear and an unsettling sense of unreality, they responded swiftly to the crisis by immediately closing the park, evacuating all visitors, and stepping up security measures.
Four U.S. Park Police vessels, staffed with SWAT teams, were sent to secure the waters around both islands. Taking full advantage of their proximity to New York City, NPS staff quickly rallied their energies, resources and equipment to transport people and supplies via New York harbor and assist in medical evacuations of injured people from lower Manhattan.
A triage center for treating the wounded was set up on Ellis Island, and NPS staff were soon joined by dozens of EMT's, paramedics and emergency room physicians brought by boat from area towns and hospitals.
When the parks reopened three months later, interpretive staff were peppered with questions about the attack. "We'll have to relive that day for years to the public," says Gene Kuziw, Interpreter at the Statue of Liberty, "because the first question they ask is... where were the towers?"
Click here for general information on Statue of Liberty, National Memorial.
Click here for general information on Ellis Island, Immigration Museum.