Affectionately called Lady Liberty, she is the symbol of freedom, hope and the American Dream. From Battery Park, boats depart daily to Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty looks out over the city. Although the statue doesn’t look particularly large from Manhattan, once on the island she commands an impressive presence. Visitors may climb all the way to the top and even look out from her crown.
The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who worked on the statue for 9 years. Bartholdi had based the design of this all-American sculpture on sketches for a statue he had planned for the lighthouse of the Suez Canal. However, Egypt had no money for the statue. Thanks to various fundraisers, the statue was eventually bought by the French people and given to the United States in honour of the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.
“The points of the crown symbolize the seven seas and seven continents”
The 46-metre-high statue, weighing 225 tons, was shipped here in 214 crates. A pedestal was not included and had to be paid for by New York City. That is why for many years the flame of liberty was on display in Madison Square Park. It took 10 years to finally put the statue in its current place. To make sure that the statue could resist strong winds, Gustave Eiffel (known from the Eiffel tower) designed a sturdy frame of metal and steel.
The Statue of Liberty is filled with symbolism. Her original name was ‘La liberté éclairant le monde’ (The freedom that illuminates the world). The torch that she holds in her right hand represents the light of freedom. In her left hand she carries a book with the inscription ‘July IV MDCCLXXVI’ (4 July 1776). That is the date when the American Declaration of Independence was signed. And then there's the crown with 7 points that symbolize the 7 seas and 7 continents.
Although a visit to Liberty Island is an experience in itself, a walk around the statue is made even more special with a visit inside it. Anybody can purchase tickets to visit the pedestal, but there are only a limited number of tickets available each day to visit the crown. The Statue of Liberty has a lift, but the last 33 metres to the crown are only accessible on foot: a 377-step climb up a spiral staircase. Fortunately there are several resting platforms where you can catch your breath and admire the ingenious steel construction of the statue. It is certainly worth the effort: the 25 windows of the crown offer a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.