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The Statue of Liberty celebrated her 120th birthday yesterday with the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. But can you imagine living on Liberty Island? The NY Times has a feature on the Hill family who has been selling souvenirs and food for the past 75 years. Bradford Hill operates the business today (it makes $15 million a year), in the footsteps of his grandparents Aaron and Evelyn and his father James who was actually born on Liberty Island and lived there until he was eight. From the NY Times:

Some of the residents of the barracks on Bedloe’s Island commuted across the harbor to work on Governors Island. If they needed medical care, they rode boats to Brooklyn, Jim Hill recalled in a recent interview near his home on the Upper East Side.

But, as Jim Hill tells the story, he was born on a December day in 1925 when there was too much ice in the harbor for a boat to take his mother to a hospital. So, he was delivered at home by an Army doctor and is a member of the very small club of natives of Liberty Island. As an adult, he commuted to the island for 46 years until he retired in 1992.

He remembers sneaking into the statue as a child, only to be chased off by a guard. “The statue was off limits,” he said.

Once, he recalled, he and some young buddies tossed a baseball out of the crown to see how high it would bounce. The children traveled by boat to a three-room public school on Governors Island, he said.

“We thought everybody lived on an island,” Jim Hill said.

The Hills' monopoly on selling souvenirs and snacks on Liberty Island may no longer be as the National Parks Service is looking for bids to sell there.

Here is information about visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Photograph of the Statue of Liberty by regina_emanuelle on Flickr - tag your pictures with "gothamist" so we can see them!