In my trip to New York City last year, I did not manage to visit the Statue of Liberty. I like New York City so much that I knew I would return one day and visit this place together with Suanne. So, this summer, we managed to get here. For me, this is the high point of our summer vacation.
The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most symbolic icon that best describes the United States of America. It is very much a beacon of hope standing in the middle of the harbour where millions of immigrants passes through with their first glimpse of the new world.
The Statue of Liberty is a gift from the people of France to the Americans for centenary of the founding of the US. What I don’t understand is why France of all countries who would present such a symbolic gift to the US … I mean, why not the British? He he he … this is MY theory … the last thing the Brits wanted to do is to help celebrate the unilateral declaration on independence by the US 100 years ago. The French, being eternal rivals to the Brits, saw it fit to celebrate in the grandest manner.
The Statue of Liberty stands on the Liberty Island. Liberty Island is surprisingly huge. If not for the hordes of people, it is actually a very beautiful park.
Here is another plus point (I think!) for visiting Ellis Island and the Status of Liberty from New Jersey. Not only is it less crowded getting to the islands but the itinerary goes first to Ellis Island and then the Statue of Liberty. Personally, I prefer to visit the “lesser” sight before hitting the big one.
We went straight to the Statue when we landed on Liberty Island. It was just a short walk from the jetty. We picked up our audio guide from the outdoor stand before heading to the entrance.
Understandably, security is tight. Absolutely, no bags are allowed — hand carried cameras are OK. There are lockers at the security inspection tent where we put our bags.
They had just put in a spiffy new security system here. These ones looked more advanced than any of the security systems I had seen in US airports. You walk into the chamber where the machine spit air from bottom to top … psst, psst, psst … and you’re done. I am very curious as to what these actually do. I had read somewhere that there are now machines that can scan through your clothes and was wondering if this one of them — maybe not as I don’t see a scanner of sorts. Maybe these just sniffs for traces of explosives.
The above is the original torch from the right arm of Lady Liberty. They had replaced this original one with a new one just twenty years ago. From the looks of it, it is a lookout balcony but of course no one could get to the torch nowadays for security and safety reasons.
We spent some time browsing the exhibits which is a great place to learn of the history of the Statue of Liberty. There were quite a number of prototypes before they landed with the current design. It was a good thing too because many of the prototypes and drawings were quite horrendous.
Despite its enormous size, the Statue of Liberty is quite light. It is clad in copper sheeting with a thickness of only 2-3mm. The above is the original color of Lady Liberty. If you see it from the outside today, it is all greenish.
Here is the comparison for size. Oh, this is not taken from the statue of liberty but just life size replicas of sections of it.
The exhibits also explains how the statue was constructed starting from a smaller sized version right. They used very simple concepts.
While the design of the statue was French, it was the Americans who designed and built the pedestal on which Lady Liberty stands today. There were a few designs until they settled on a 11 pointed star fort like design. Built fully with granite, the pedestal alone is 10 stories high … or … in other words …
… 275 steps from the bottom to the top of the pedestal!
While they had elevators, the elevators are meant quite strictly for those who really need it. It was a really tough climb and we see a lot of people huffing and puffing all the way up — us included.
There is nothing much up there. The view from the top was great and it was also very windy.
Too bad the air quality was pretty bad that day (above is the picture of Ellis Island from Liberty Island. I was thinking at that time … hmmm … despite all the fuss about the air quality for the Beijing Olympics, the air quality here is not that great either. *shrugs*
One is not able to get to the top of the Statue of Liberty anymore. They closed it citing safety reasons but I think it is more of a security thing. I would give a limb to be able to get to the crown. I heard that despite the size, it could hold a couple of dozen of people at a time. Today, we can only see the staircase inside the statue from the glass panel from below.
Oh, did you know that the entire structure (not the sculpture) was designed and built by no other than Gustave Eiffel, the man who built the Eiffel Tower?
Alright … another check against a line on my “been there, done that” list.
Getting back was horrific. Apparently most people decided to go back at about the same time. You need tons of patience here trying to get on board. Plan well for the trip here. Where possible go when there are less people — summer weekends are simply the worse time to visit.