Ellis Island from Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry, which takes 25 minutes one way to travel between Battery Park in Manhattan and St. George on Staten Island, is probably the greatest bargain in New York City, as it offers some of the best views of the harbor and the world-famous skyline, for free.
Ellis Island, for the latter parts of the 19th Century until the immigration restrictions of 1924 and beyond, was the primary entry point for Europeans who wanted a better shot at life in a new country. They were deposited here and screened before being granted entry into the US. Ellis Island is iconic because most Americans are descendants of one of the Ellis Island immigrants, rather than, say, the Pilgrims or the early English colonists. Ellis Island closed in 1954, and re-opened as a museum in 1990.
At the landing where new immigrants used to be deposited for processing, two Statue Cruises boats are dropping off and picking up visitors. This is the main building that was turned into a museum and re-opened in 1990.