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What lies within the Statue of Liberty?

Explore the interior of the Statue of Liberty as we delve into its history, construction, and available areas to visit. While its official name is Liberty Enlightening the World, it is widely recognized as the Statue of Liberty.

By Kisaakye Daniel Published 9 days ago 7 min read
What lies within the Statue of Liberty?
Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

Let's examine the interior of the Statue of Liberty in detail. We'll explore its history, construction, and the accessible areas within. As a gift from the people of France to the United States in 1886, the Statue of Liberty holds a significant place. If we zoom in on Europe, we can locate France, while across the ocean lies the United States, where the Statue of Liberty stands proudly on the East Coast. Zooming in further, we can identify New York and New Jersey as the surrounding states. Positioned between them is the Upper Bay, commonly known as the New York Harbor, where Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty, resides. Expanding our view, we can observe Manhattan with its renowned New York buildings, as well as Governor's Island and Ellis Island, which served as an entry point for many immigrants from 1892 to 1954. Immigrants arriving by boat would catch their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, which has become a symbol of freedom. In her right hand, she holds a torch, while her left hand grasps a tablet bearing the Roman numerals representing the date of the Declaration of Independence. An intriguing detail not visible from the ground is a broken shackle and chain, symbolizing the abolition of slavery. Standing at a height of 46 meters, or 93 meters when measured from the ground up, equivalent to approximately a 20-story building, the Statue of Liberty held the title of the world's tallest statue upon its completion in 1886. However, the current holder of that title is the Statue of Unity in India. The Statue of Liberty is constructed of copper, initially resembling the color of a penny. Over time, approximately 20 years, exposure to air and rain caused the metal to oxidize, resulting in its iconic green hue. The copper metal is remarkably thin, with a thickness of only 2.4 millimeters, less than two American pennies. The statue was assembled in sections, requiring meticulous planning. Designed by the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the process began with a small clay sculpture measuring 1.2 meters, roughly shorter than the average adult. Subsequently, a larger version, twice the size, was created using plaster, followed by a quarter-scale model. Each enlargement stage allowed Bartholdi to refine the statue's details further. To fit within the workshop, the full-size statue had to be constructed in separate pieces. At one point, to raise funds, the completed head of the statue was exhibited in France, while the right arm and torch were displayed in the United States. Visitors had the opportunity to climb to the top of each section for a fee. Transitioning from the plaster model to the final copper rendition involved the use of copper sheets and a technique called repoussé. This method entailed creating wooden molds adjacent to the full-size plaster model.

This process involved using the wooden mold to shape the copper pieces by hammering them until they conformed to the desired form. To provide structural support, iron straps were placed inside the copper pieces. Thus, a finished section of the Statue of Liberty was created. However, these individual pieces alone would not be able to bear their own weight. A supporting framework was necessary, and Gustave Eiffel, a familiar name, was the designer of this structure. Interestingly, he later went on to contribute to the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

At the core of the Statue of Liberty, there is an iron pylon that can be likened to its spine. Smaller support beams were then built around it to uphold the copper elements of the statue. This framework allowed the statue to sway up to 12 centimeters at its highest point when subjected to the wind. The entire construction process took nearly 10 years, initially taking place in Paris, France.

Once completed, the statue was disassembled into 350 different pieces, which were then shipped across the ocean to the United States. It took an additional four months to reassemble the statue atop its pedestal. While the statue was funded by the French, the United States covered the cost of the pedestal. Originally known as Bedloe's Island, the location is now referred to as Liberty Island.

Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has undergone several renovations, including the restoration of its torch. The original torch, which had been damaged and was experiencing water leakage, was replaced in the 1980s. The original torch is still on display, and its location will be shown later in the video.

To access Liberty Island, taking the ferry is the recommended method, unless one happens to be an exceptional swimmer. Ferries depart from two locations: Liberty State Park in New Jersey and The Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. The journey to Liberty Island typically takes around 15 minutes. The island spans a land area of just under 15 acres and features various amenities, including Flagpole Plaza, the Information Center, a cafe and bookstore, and a gift shop. The Statue of Liberty Museum, inaugurated in 2019, can be reached by following a path that leads to the statue. The island offers ample walking areas, allowing visitors to admire the statue from different angles. The base of the statue exhibits a star-shaped design, representing the remnants of Fort Wood, an old military base from the early 1800s that now serves as the foundation for the Statue of Liberty. This section is known as the pedestal. With a pedestal ticket, one can explore all areas on top of the statue's base and ascend to the observation deck. For those desiring to venture inside the statue, a ticket to the crown must be obtained, although acquiring one can be challenging, often requiring reservations weeks or even months in advance. However, due to the pandemic, public access to the pedestal and statue has been restricted, but it is expected to change in the future. To enter the statue, visitors would pass through the Centennial Doors, exclusive to those with pedestal tickets, and proceed to the pedestal lobby. The original torch, formerly located in the center, was relocated to its current position when the museum opened in 2019, thus restoring an open layout to the pedestal lobby.

The previous museum used to occupy this area, but now most of its contents have been relocated to the new museum. Our next destination is the top of the pedestal, and you have two options: the elevator located here or the stairs situated here. To reach the pinnacle of the pedestal, you will need to climb 192 steps. Inside, you can see the stairs leading upwards and the stairs for descending on the other side.

The pedestal houses a total of seven floors, denoted as 1P, 2P, and so on up to 7P, which represents the highest level. At level 3P, you can step outside and enjoy the views of the surrounding areas, while the official Observation Deck is situated at level 6P. You can access the outdoor area from either here or here, granting you a panoramic 360-degree view of the entire harbor.

If you possess a ticket to ascend to the crown, proceed to level 7P. This is where your climb to the top of the statue begins. Known as the Double Helix Stairway, it features a spiral staircase that serves as both the ascent and descent path. These stairs are integrated within the central support structure, offering limited space, so it's essential not to have a fear of heights.

Resting places are available along the way in case you feel fatigued. Additionally, there is an emergency elevator inside the statue, although it is not for regular public use. It can accommodate only three people and stops at select platforms along the spiral stairway. During your ascent, you will be able to observe the metal framework supporting the statue and even discern the individual folds of the statue's dress.

Eventually, you will reach the top of the spiral stairs, referred to as the crown. Only a limited number of people are allowed in this area at once. It offers an excellent vantage point to gaze through the windows onto the harbor. The crown boasts a total of 25 windows, and from the inside, you can even discern the intricate patterns of the statue's hair. On the backside of the crown, you will notice illuminated lights that are activated during the nighttime. When you have finished exploring the crown, you can commence your descent on the other side of the Double Helix Stairway.

Many people inquire about the torch. Following an explosion in New York Harbor in 1916, the statue was damaged, leading to the permanent closure of the torch to the public. However, maintenance workers still occasionally ascend the torch. Near the statue's neck, you can observe the gate that grants access to the arm. Once inside, a long ladder leads up the arm. While it is not an easy climb, you will eventually encounter another ladder that leads to a tiny door at the very top, allowing you to step out into the fresh open air.


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