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Are you taking Liberties? The Statue of Liberty. New York.
Statue of Liberty (New York, USA)
Member Name: GillMN
Statue of Liberty (New York, USA)
Date: 01/02/10, updated on 03/02/10 (136 review reads)
Advantages: Inexpensive. Amazing. Informative. Good disabled access to most places.
Disadvantages: Poor eating areas, expensive, unexciting food.
I'll start by giving this iconic monument it's full title: 'Liberty enlightening the world.'
It is probably the most photographed and instantly recognisable man made artefact ever.
I visited it on a cold and blustery day last December. We were on the island for a few hours before going on to visit Ellis Island. It is possible to see the statue quite well by sailing past on one of the harbour's ferries but we thought it would be worthwhile to go and visit Lady Liberty close up. I'm glad we did! She has a beautiful face with a solemn determined expression. As well she might when you think that she embodies a nation's desire for freedom from oppression.
Four of us took the ferry from Battery Point on the south of Manhattan Island. Inclusive tickets for the two islands cost around $12.00 The ferries run regularly and frequently throughout the day with an airport style security check before embarking. In high season these checks can take up to half an hour but we were through in ten minutes. A short but choppy journey across the harbour and we alighted at Liberty Island. Entrance to both the islands is free but you pay to visit the crown. You have to pay for this before you get on any of the ferries.
The island itself is quite large, about half is taken up with the statue and the other half is wooded and landscaped. The day we were there there was a huge amount of Canada Geese in residence. They were very good to look at but due to their lack of toilet training made walking about a bit hazardous! (not to mention kneeling down to take photos!)
When we were there the crown was closed to visitors because of security after 9/11, in fact the whole island was closed in the aftermath for 100 days and the pedestal for four years. Now it is possible to climb up to the crown again but access is strictly limited and tickets must be booked well in advance.
Walking around the base of the pedestal takes about ten minutes, (if you don't stop!) it's an enjoyable walk because you get to see many details of the statue that are not normally obvious. It is incredibly impressive! Observation points along the perimeter fence allow for fantastic views of the Hudson River and New York City. It was very sad to observe the gap in the skyline where the twin towers once stood. The path is even and level and wheelchair access here, as on the rest of the island, is good.
Liberties' torch is gold plated and really shines in the sun. At night 16 spotlights are trained on it and it glows beautifully. We saw the original torch in the large entrance hallway, damage meant it had had to be replaced by a new one in 1986. Seeing the size of just the torch made me really appreciate the scale of the whole statue!
I was taken with the sight of the broken chain peeping out from the bottom of Liberty's robes. It symbolizes the fact that Liberty is striding forward having broken free from the shackles of tyranny. That small detail moved me. It is so easy to take democracy for granted.
The visitor centre/museum is on the second floor of the pedestal. It has a huge amount of information which is well laid out and interesting to read. I particularly enjoyed looking at the old photographs of construction. I still smile when I remember the photo of construction workers building scaffolding with their bowler hats on!
There is a video to watch giving the history of the Statue and some wonderful shots of it's construction. There is also an outside walking tour available for free which last about 45 minutes. I didn't go on this but I am told that the guides are entertaining and informative.
Audio tours are available in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, and Japanese. (Probably Martian too!) I think they cost $8.00. I like audio tours because you can take your time and take in what you are seeing properly.
We spent over an hour in the museum and I wanted to stay longer but I got outvoted by the hungrier members of my party so we made our way to the eating areas. Quite a large range of food was available here at New York prices! I wasn't keen on the cafes, they seemed a bit squalid to me. (and they didn't use boiling water to make tea with! ) It was possible to eat inside or outside and there were a generous amount of picnic tables available if you brought your own lunches. (Which I will if I go again) After my Son-in-Law and Husband's quest for chips were satisfied we visited the souvenir shop. (Of course!)
The souvenir shop was large and funny! I have never seen so many images of the Statue Of Liberty on so many items! In fact I think they took some liberties with her! The image of her on the front of a very flimsy thong was a bit mind boggling. I couldn't help wondering what Monsieur Bartholdi would have made of it. Or how about a Statue of Liberty soft toy that spoke to you? Or even better, a glow in the dark Statue of Liberty snow globe? I have to say that the designers of Statue of Liberty memorabilia had a lot of taste and most of it was bad! Funny though! We decided against buying anything and dragged my daughter out of the shop and back to the ferry.
Considering that entrance to the islands is free, this is a good way to spend time and be simultaneously entertained and educated. I would recommend a visit to anyone but take some goose repellent and a packed lunch!
~~~A few statistics~~~
The pedestal of the statue is a very large star shape. The responsibility for building the pedestal rested on the American Public and due to their lack of enthusiasm it nearly didn't happen! In the end the newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer raised the money through appeals in his newspapers. It was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and the infrastructure was built by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.
Liberty stands 305 foot high. (half of which is pedestal!) She is covered with 31 tons of copper over a steel scaffolding which weighs 125 tons. I was fascinated to learn that the copper covering, which is the thickness of two pennies, is designed to move independently of the frame so that it isn't damaged by high winds.
It was a gift from France by public conscription. The Statue was completed in France in July of 1884, then taken apart and shipped to the U S. She arrived in NY In June 1885. Once started it took four months to rebuild her and she was opened to the public in October 1886.
A good cheap day out at a site which is manned by friendly and helpful staff. There is something to entertain all ages there. Being so close to such an icon is an unforgettable experience. Now, every time I see an image of the Statue I can say to myself. "I've touched that!" (I didn't get the tee shirt though!)
Summary: A must for visitors to New York!
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