During our NYC trip in August (or, The Trip Where We Saw Hamilton and Other Stuff Also Happened), our other organized activity was to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
There are a lot of restrictions to get to Lady Liberty. The statue itself is a National Park, and the tickets, the official tickets, cannot be purchased willy-nilly from any old place. You must use one ferry boat company, a partner with the National Park Service, and it goes to Liberty Island where the statue is located and to Ellis Island, like it or not–though you don’t have to get off the ferry if you don’t want to. (I guess Lady Liberty is like Ellis’ wing (wo)man, because she really draws the crowds, so requiring the boat to stop at Ellis really bumps up their visits.) In addition, if you want to go up to the statue’s crown, you can’t just buy tickets the day of or a few days in advance; it requires a couple months of advance planning. Good news for those who visit with short notice, you can go up to the pedestal with the other last-minute jebronis, but you won’t be able to go up to the crown.
Some facts you may or may not know about the Statue of Liberty:
- The statue was originally conceived by Édouard de Laboulaye, designed and created by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and Laboulaye intended it to be a gift from France. He planned that the statue would celebrate the United States’ centennial in 1876, but was officially dedicated ten years later in 1886.
- Private citizens of both countries ended up sharing the cost, since no there was no government funding involved on either side. America struggled to pay for the pedestal (while France struggled to pay for the statue), and fundraising on both shores was a large part of the delay. Joseph Pulitzer created a highly successful campaign that succeeded in raising the remaining necessary funds through his publication, “New York World.”
- Suffragettes lamented that an enormous female statue and symbol of liberty would welcome people to a country where women weren’t legally permitted to vote. They protested the day of the unveiling.
- She was originally a lighthouse, but Bartholdi modeled this beacon instead after Colossus of Rhodes in Greece (circa 280 BC) and the enormous monuments guarding the Egyptian Temples. The official statue name is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
- In 1916 the torch was closed to the public following an explosion in the New York Harbor.
- Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (you may have heard of him) designed the supporting internal structure of the statue.
- The copper exterior of the statue is only about as wide as the thickness of two pennies. And like new pennies, it was once shiny brown copper in color.
- The original torch was replaced in 1986 (as part of a large restoration project), and the current torch is covered with thin sheets of 24K gold (from Bartholdi’s original designs. In fact, he wanted the whole statue to be gold).
- Emma Lazarus wrote the sonnet mounted at the base of the statue, featuring the famous words, “Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
- Lastly, one of the working models of the Lady Liberty statue can be found next to a bridge in Paris. (You would know this if you watched the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets–while not all true, still a clever and creative movie.) That statue is about a quarter of the size of the colossal one in New York (see what I did there?). There are two more Statues of Liberty in Paris museums and one that welcomes you to Bartholdi’s birth city in France.
Sources not linked above: All about Lady Liberty on the NPS site. This great non-fiction graphic novel I bought for my kids while there. More unusual facts about the Statue. Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to the statue, tell me about it. Scroll down for a few more photos.