Who Owns the Statue of Liberty?

Silas Ou, Reporter

The Statue of Liberty. It lies in the New York City area… yeah, I don’t know, check this image. Anyways a quick history of the Statue of Liberty. In 1886 the French decided to give us a gift. A giant 305-foot copper statue (It used to be the color of copper but now it got oxidized so its green). In 1924 the U.S. governments made it a national monument and today two states are debating about who owns it. So, how did this argument originate?

Well, in the long, long ago, like in 1664. So the Dutch had this city called New Amsterdam, which lied EXACTLY where New York City is. But, the British had more guns so the Dutch gave up their city for only $1,015.  When the 13 colonies were established New York and New Jersey had some disputes. In the long, long ago though, there was some really bad mapping technology. So they were a bit confused on what the borders were. For Example, who owns Governor Island?  New Jersey wanted Half the Hudson River and the islands in it. Which were Staten Island, Liberty Island (Where Lady Liberty is), and Ellis Island. But New York wanted literally the entire area. The Hudson River, the islands, and the areas of water east of it. They also wanted the piers on the island( built by New Jersey) taxed. When New Jersey disagreed New York took out the bigger stick and said: “Make me”. So New Jersey complied. (Probably also because of one of the islands becoming a smallpox quarantine center.

But nobody had time for that because it was “independence from the British time”. America won its independence and people were so happy about it (and busy making a new constitution) that they ignored it until 1832. Then 1832 came and that’s when the big feuds started. New Jersey called the supreme court and stated that they wanted all the islands in the Hudson River (including its trade routes and trade rights). New York decided to not show up to the case, reasoning that the Supreme Court had no right to settle an argument between the states. Even though that sounds crazy today, back in the day power struggles between the Federal Government and the states were very common and this was no exception. So the U.S. Supreme Court decided that they would pick up the case another time. Or basically, drop it. The U.S. government also knew if the lawsuit took place and New Jersey won, New York, would likely tell the Supreme Court to dismiss it. So the Federal Government used some political leverage and convinced the two states to compromise. And there was never a state power struggle between the states and the Federal Government.

The compromise stated that New York got Staten Island, Liberty Island, Governor Island, and Ellis Island. BUT! New Jersey got the piers on those islands as well as the trade rights and water in the Hudson River. Although that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, back in the Industrial Era, a few e one kilometer Islands were worth a whole river. So basically the islands in the Hudson River were enclaves of New York. Then America was like: Actually, it’s federal land and I’m going to build a fort on it that shoots cannons and totally won’t be the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.” When the Statue of Liberty did come, America was like BFF’s France and said”I’ll put it right here so that these two states can argue more and so that everyone who comes to America will see this.

This worked until the 1980s when Ellis Island magically tripled in size. New Jersey claimed the new land was theirs while New York said that it was from the dirt that they unearthed while making new subways. But neither state really had the papers to prove or disprove New York’s theory. So nobody really knows why Ellis Island tripled in size. Anyways, the court basically says the original Ellis Island in New York’s but the rest (and any future extra land) is New Jersey. Ant that leads us to Liberty Island. Liberty Island also magically doubled in size and based on the supreme court ruling, the new Land in New Jersey. But both of the states haven’t really fought over it yet. So technically the Statue of Liberty is on the New York side and surrounded by New Jersey Water.

But wait! The second most important thing besides the statue is the gift shop. And guess which side the gift shop is on/who gets the revenue from the gift shop. New Jersey. And that concludes our 300-year state feud. From the 13 colonies to the new millennium.