The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
The first tourist attraction we chose to visit on our New York Pass just had to be a trip over to see The Statue of Liberty. We knew before we went that we couldn't go up to the crown (booked until the end of October, or about seven or eight months ahead), we would be happy to do the pedestal. We jumped up fresh-faced and raring to get stuck in to the role of serious tourists. Leaving Beez at eight, on the subway with the commuters, to the end of the number 1 train route. We crossed the road to pick up our ferry tickets in Fort Clinton and made our way to the queue, not overly long at this time in the morning.
Beside us as we queued was the American Merchant Mariners Memorial. This serves "as a marker for American Merchant Mariners resting in the unmarked ocean depths." Rather lovely we thought, especially the helping hand rescuing the man in the water, not very visible when it is high tide.
Once through the 'airport security' we boarded one of the many ferries for the short ride over to the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World, French: La Liberté éclairant le monde). A a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbour, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on the 28th of October 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.
Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870’s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed both the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed in New York's Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World initiated a drive for donations to complete the project and the campaign inspired over 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe's Island. The statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was administered by the US Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980's, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the 9/11 attacks, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue is scheduled to close for up to a year beginning in late 2011 so that a secondary staircase can be installed, lucky for us to be here now. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916. We were thrilled to be able to visit her and spent ages in the museum finding out how she was designed and built. We could just imagine how all those millions of emigrants must have felt after rough journeys at sea, some lasting many weeks must have felt seeing her welcome them to their new land.
ALL IN ALL A CLASSIC ICON
SHE LIVED UP TO ALL OUR EXPECTATIONS