Diving into the History of the Statue of Liberty

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Stephen Briganti, President & CEO of The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, to discuss the island's newest addition, a 26,000-square-foot museum telling the history of the Statue of Liberty.

8/30/19 #2244






"Welcome to One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the gentleman in the house will tell you. He is Steve Briganti, President and CEO of Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Good to see you my friend. My paisano. Nice to be here. Alright. Tell folks... we were just doing this. Where is your family from in Italy? Well, we call it Basilicata. Basa lacata is how my... Basa lacata? Okay. ...family would say it. We'll compromise on that. Exactly. Our family's from Naples. I told you, my grandfather came here, Luigi Calvello, 1919, he comes to Ellis Island like countless others, right? Millions of others. Millions? Why...? Not just his experience, but the millions who came in from so many other countries come through Ellis Island. Why is it so important? And why is there a museum now? Well, it's so important because this is where part of the country was populated from. This was their first steps in America. Their first sign of, for many, freedom. Ellis Island was built as a station to receive people. And so for us, those of us who are the heirs of the Ellis Islanders, it's a romantic place, because it's where our family started in America. So you come in on the ships? Yeah. Those massive ships? Yeah. You see the Statue of Liberty. My grandfather used to speak to me in Italian and talk to me about this. You've talked to many immigrants who have come here. What do they say that that statue meant and means to them? Arrival. Freedom. Opportunity They come to this country for many many reasons, but those were amongst the primary ones. And every picture you see of those ships sailing into New York Harbor, everybody rushes to the side to see the Statue of Liberty, because that was their first sight of America, and that's what they had heard about at home. You'll see the Statue of Liberty, you're free. You'll see the Statue of Liberty, you're free. The ships actually went into Manhattan. They didn't dock at Ellis Island, because it wasn't deep enough for them. And the steerage class people, of which most of us were... That's right. ...got off, put on a barge... They couldn't afford anything else? They couldn't. And got taken over to Ellis Island where they were processed. Now... And they get a lot of names wrong, by the way, but I'm not gonna talk about that! [laughter] Oh, what town are you from? Yeah, well that's now your new last name? Yeah. Actually, a lot of the names were changed by the people themselves. Really? But not at Ellis Island. To quote... I hate to say this, to..."