The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. A gift from France to the United States over 125 years ago in recognition of the two countries’ friendship, it has been a symbol of freedom and democracy ever since.
After closing its doors for a year while renovation work to the elevators and staircases took place, Lady Liberty’s return to glory suffered further delays after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in October 2012. However, much like the statue itself, the city that never sleeps has been defiant in the face of hardship and is now looking forward to reopening its star attraction on the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day.
Whether you admire her from the shore or take a water taxi out to meet Lady Liberty herself, the Statue of Liberty is one of the best family days out in New York.
Designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence, the monument’s pedestal was built by the American people, while France took responsibility for the statue and its assembly.
As is appropriate for such a public building, the Statue of Liberty was actually crowd funded. There was a lack of funds on both sides of the Atlantic, so supporters in the US and France organised fundraisers and events to raise money for the statue. Joseph Pulitzer (of Pulitzer Prize fame) even wrote editorials in The World newspaper that called upon citizens to donate cash.
Bartholdi required additional help for the project as well, and enlisted the help of legendary engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel to assist in the design of an iron skeletal framework which allowed the statue’s copper skin to move independently but still stand upright.
Transported to the US on the French frigate Isere, the statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. Although it took four months to assemble, thousands of spectators witnessed its dedication on October 28th 1886, ten years later than planned.
With millions of Americans set to celebrate their nation’s founding on the fourth of July, the people of New York have an added reason to be proud – after reconstruction and delays, it was only appropriate to reopen this famous landmark of freedom on American Independence Day.
Before closing for renovation, the National Park service revealed that 3.7 million people visited the Statue of Liberty in 2011, bringing in $174 million and supporting 2,218 jobs. While its return will be heralded as a triumph over adversity, it will also be a welcome economic boost for the area.
While it may not be advisable to battle the crowds on the fourth, this summer is the perfect time to see her for yourself. Visitors that want to get up close and personal will now benefit from shallower steps, air-conditioning and improved wheelchair accessibility. However, the best views and pictures of Lady Liberty are from the water, on board a New York Water Taxi.