The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming immigrants to America since its dedication in 1886. Since then, it has become an icon for our great country. The Statue of Liberty receives millions of visitors each year, with many more admiring her blue-green figure from afar. She stands holding a torch, lighting the way to freedom and showing us the path to Liberty. While the Statue of Liberty is well-known, many are unaware that she came very close to disappearing from history. In this post, I hope to give y’all a little bit of info about Liberty and maybe even inspire you to visit her yourself.
A Brief History
The idea of the Statue of Liberty first came about in 1865 when Frenchman Edouard de Laboulaye first proposed making a monument for the United States. The USA and France had been great allies to each other over the years; in fact, French aid helped the United States gain their independence from Great Britain! The French commissioned sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to design a sculpture by 1876 (the centennial of American independence). The piece was named “Liberty Enlightening the World”, but has come to be known as the Statue of Liberty. Liberty was a joint effort between the USA and France; the French provided the statue and engineering, while the USA was to build a pedestal for Lady Liberty to stand on.
Unfortunately, the USA had a really hard time funding the project. A mixture of auctions, benefits, art exhibits, and more raised funds at a very slow pace. Finally, newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer began using his newspapers to ask people for funds, and the American people were moved to donate! Pulitzers efforts worked and the funds were raised by August 1885.
Liberty was created in 350 individual statue pieces because she was too big to ship whole. A skeletal frame was needed to support these pieces, so France recruited Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) to design the frame. Liberty’s 350 individual statue pieces arrived in New York in June 1885 and the pedestal was completed in April 1886. Liberty’s assembly began immediately. Ropes, pulleys, and tons of manpower went into constructing the monument. Thankfully (and surprisingly), no one died during assembly!
Dedication to Today
On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty in front of a crowd of thousands. While assembly had been completed, Liberty’s story was far from over. Liberty was originally a functional lighthouse, but the cost of maintaining the light became too high. The Statue of Liberty’s lighthouse was decommissioned in 1902, shortly after her care was transferred to the U.S. War Department from the U.S. Lighthouse Board. The next year, Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” was added to her pedestal, welcoming countless immigrants into America.
While all this was going on, the copper coating Liberty slowly turned green, with the transformation complete by 1920. Another significant moment for Liberty came in 1933, when her care was transferred to the National Park Service. Now, the NPS works to maintain Liberty and allows millions to visit Liberty Island each year.
While there are several options for seeing the Statue of Liberty, the only way to actually get on Liberty Island is through the National Parks Service and Statue Cruises. Make sure you are purchasing tickets through either their ticket booths or their websites, otherwise you might purchase fake tickets (especially if you buy them off the street). Once you’ve gotten your tickets, you can depart for Liberty Island from either Battery Park in NYC or from New Jersey.
There are 3 types of tickets: grounds only, pedestal tickets, and crown tickets. Grounds tickets are the most widely available and give visitors access to Liberty Island’s grounds. Pedestal tickets grant access to the grounds, pedestal, and museums. Crown tickets are the toughest to get and give visitors access to the grounds, pedestal, museums, and Liberty’s crown. All of these tickets include the ferry fee and access to Ellis Island!
What to Expect
My mother and I visited the Statue of Liberty during a trip to New York City back in May. We decided to visit Liberty on a whim after wandering down to Battery Park. Luckily, tickets for the day hadn’t sold out yet and we were able to snag pedestal tickets from the NPS booth! We then headed towards the port, went through TSA-style security, and loaded up on the Statue Cruises boat, landing on Liberty Island about 20 minutes later. We spent around half an hour exploring Liberty Island before heading back to NYC to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. While we had visited NYC a number of times, this was our first trip to the Statue of Liberty and we were absolutely in awe of her.
Have you visited Liberty? Share your experience in the comments below!