You learned in school that the Statue of Liberty was gifted from France to the US in 1886 – but there’s a lot you still don’t know about New York’s most famous local. Get to know Lady Liberty with our breakdown of things even New Yorkers don’t know.
Tickets to the crown, or head, of the Statue of Liberty are available by advance reservation only. After the events of September 11, 2001, large groups of people were no longer allowed to access the crown all at once. Because only a limited number of tickets are available every day, the crown is known to be booked up four to six months in advance.
Standing at 305 feet (93 meters), Lady Liberty certainly has her head in the clouds, resulting in a striking (no pun intended) statistic. Due to its height, scientists believe that the statue has been hit by approximately 600 bolts of lightning every year since 1886. In 2010, photographer Jay Fine captured an instance of this for the first time.
You knew the statue was a national icon, but were you also aware that it’s an official National Monument? Under the Antiquities Act, United States President Calvin Coolidge designated the Statue of Liberty a national monument in 1924. The statue is now cared for, not by the city of New York, but by the National Park Service.
It’s hard to imagine a New York City without Statue of Liberty keychain and sweatshirt souvenirs, yet this could have been the case if French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi had been successful in his aim to own the statue’s image. The artist found himself beaten to the punch, however, when at the dedication, images of the Statue of Liberty were made available.
Despite the mechanical innovations that have arose since the statue was erected, there is still no elevator access from the top of the pedestal, or Lady Liberty’s feet, to the crown platform. Instead, sight-seekers brave the 377 steps from the main lobby to the platform. Tip: be sure to use the restroom before embarking on your ascent— the only facilities are located in the lobby, almost 400 steps from the top!
In 1916 during World War I, a group of German terrorists set off an explosion at the Statue of Liberty. The statue’s right arm sustained most of the, ultimately minor, damage, which cost USD$100,000 to repair. Immediately following the attack, the stairs in the statue’s torch were closed due to safety reasons. To this day, the torch remains closed to the public.
The tablet inscribed with the date of America’s Independence Day, July 4, 1776, is just one of the statue’s allusions to liberty. The robed female figure is intended to represent Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, while the seven spikes of her crown are a nod to the seven continents and oceans of the world and an allusion to universal liberty.
Today, the Statue of Liberty is as integral to New York City as yellow cabs and bagels with schmear. If the cities of Boston and Philadelphia had had their way, however, this wouldn’t be the case. Groups in both cities originally offered to pay the full cost of the statue’s construction and transportation in return for its relocation. Needless to say (and in no surprise to locals), New York won out.