Affectionately called Lady Liberty, she is the symbol of freedom, hope and the American dream. Every day, boats depart from Battery Park to Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty looks over the city. Although the statue doesn’t seem very large when seen from Manhattan, once you reach the island it makes for an impressive spectacle. Thankfully, it is possible to climb all the way up to the crown.
The statue was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi. It was inspired by an idea he had for a lighthouse consisting of a female figure to guard the northern entrance to the Suez Canal. But Egypt couldn’t afford such a project, and the design was instead used for a personification of Liberty to celebrate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The sculptor spent nine years working on the statue. It was ultimately given to the United States as a gift from the people of France.
The 46-metre lady, who weighs 225 tons, was shipped in 214 crates in 1885. A plinth was not supplied and had to be financed by the New Yorkers themselves, which is why the flame of liberty was initially exhibited in Madison Square Park for years. It took another ten years before the statue could finally be erected. To ensure that it could withstand strong winds, a sturdy skeleton of iron and steel was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame).
The Statue of Liberty contains a lot of symbolism. The original name of the statue was la Liberté éclairant le monde (“Freedom illuminating the world”). The torch carried by the statue in her right hand therefore represents the light of progress. In her left hand she holds a tablet with the text ‘July IV MDCCLXXVI’ (July 4th, 1776). This is the date on which the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. Liberty also wears a crown with seven points, which represent the seven seas and seven continents.
Although walking around the sculpture is an experience in itself, it is even more impressive to look inside the Statue of Liberty. While anyone can get tickets to enter the plinth, there are only a limited number of tickets available for access to the crown every day. It is therefore smart to purchase tickets online in advance. There are lifts inside, although the final 33 metres up to the crown can only be reached through a spiral staircase of 354 steps. Fortunately, there are resting platforms here and there on the way, which offer you a great opportunity to admire the ingenious steel structure of the statue. The effort is well worth it: The 25 windows in the crown afford a phenomenal view of New York.