Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they arrived in the New World and continues to greet millions of tourists from around the world each year. While the Statue of Liberty is as much as an enduring symbol of New York City as the Empire State Building, Broadway or Central Park, it's also one of America's primary symbols of freedom.
A Gift from the People of France
The Statue of Liberty was supposed to be a gift from the people of France to commemorate America's 100th birthday in 1876. The peoples of the United States and France had come to know each other when France sent aid for the American Revolution. The French would create and build the Statue of Liberty and the United States would fund and create the pedestal for the giant copper statue. However as with many public projects of this size, slow fundraising efforts quickly hampered Lady Liberty's construction.
354 Steps and 125 Tons of Steel
Visitors to the Statue of Liberty are strongly advised to wear comfortable shoes suitable for climbing small metal steps. Hard soled shoes might not grip onto metal steps, especially in winter. While she may be 100 years old, the Statue of Liberty is still 22-stories tall and that's a hike by anyone's standards. It's 354 steps on a spiral staircase to the top. Any visitors that aren't in good physical shape might want to skip the long lines and take an elevator ride to the pedestal and forego an attempt to hike to Lady Liberty's crown. Only 192 steps will take you to the pedestal to oversee the island and for some great photo opportunities of the Statue of Liberty looming overhead.
Lady Liberty Still an Impressive Structure
The Statue of Liberty, even in the days of skyscrapers, is still an impressive sight. From the ground to the tip of the flame, Liberty is 305 feet tall. Her index finger is eight feet long; her hands are almost 17-feet wide and the tablet she cradles in her left arm, with the inscription of "July 4, 1776" in Roman letters, is two-feet thick and 23-feet long. Not widely known, the seven rays of the Statue of Liberty's crown symbolically represent the seven continents and seven seas of the globe. Climbing to the flame in Liberty's right hand was discontinued many years ago. It's best to go to the Statue of Liberty as early in the day as possible. During the summer months, heat will build up making the wait in line for the statue that much more unpleasant. The climb up the statue might be stopped a few hours before the 5:45 p.m. closing time when it's busy.
The Sculptor and Engineer
France commissioned sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to created the design for the Statue of Liberty with the idea of having the statue in place in America for the Centennial year of 1876. Realizing he would need the advice of an engineer, Bartholdi sought the help of Eiffel Tower designer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Bartholdi would create the Statue and Eiffel would build the iron framework to hold it up. The Statue of Liberty wouldn't enter New York Harbor until 1885. Once the Americans finished building the pedestal on Fort Wood, as the island was called back then, the Statue of Liberty was erected in only four months. President Grover Cleveland accepted the Statue in the name of the American people on Oct. 28, 1886, 10 years after the Centennial of the Revolution.
Statue of Liberty restored to Orginal Glory
In 1986, the Statue of Liberty was reopened after an $87 million campaign to refurbish her and add a new gold-covered flame. The original flame is inside the pedestal along with other historical exhibits about the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants entered the United States, now comprise the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Hours of Operation and Location
To visit the Statue of Liberty, arrive at Battery Park on Manhattan Island at Castle Clinton, an old fort from the early 1800s. There is no charge to visit the Statue of Liberty, but the ferry ride is $7 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and $3 for children under 17 years old. The ferries start Liberty runs at 9:15 a.m. The park closes at 5:45 p.m. For ferry service information call 212-269-5755. Park ranger tours are offered each day and last about 45 minutes.