statue of liberty
I have been to and inside the Statue of Liberty, and it is a place I’ll never forget. I was a teenager at the time, but I can still vividly picture the inside, as well as the outside. I think the thing that most stuck in my head is that to go up into the statue was a rather tight corridor. The arm was closed when we were there, but we didn’t really know why. For a time, especially after 9-11, no one was allowed to go into the Statue of Liberty at all, for fear of another terrorist attack.
Prior to the 9-11 concerns, the Statue of Liberty was examined by French and American engineers for structural stability in 1982, as part of the planning for its centennial in 1986. Following the examination, it was announced that the statue was in need of considerable restoration. Careful examination had revealed that the right arm had been improperly attached to the main structure. It was swaying more and more when strong winds blew and there was a significant risk of structural failure. This is information that I’m thankful I didn’t have when I went up into the statue in 1973. I recall being disappointed that we couldn’t go up in the arm then, but apparently they knew of the issues even then. Of further concern, the head had been installed 2 feet off center, and one of the rays was wearing a hole in the right arm when the statue moved in the wind. All the problems warranted the repairs done in 1984. She also got a nose job and her arm was shifted slightly to a better position. This information, though not well know, was really bad news, when you think about it. The statue had been standing in this place for 96 years by the time these flaws were discovered. Imagine what could have happened, especially with the arm improperly installed. The armature structure was badly corroded, and about two percent of the exterior plates needed to be replaced. Although problems with the armature had been recognized as early as 1936, when cast iron replacements for some of the bars had been installed, much of the corrosion had been hidden by layers of paint applied over the years. The whole statue was literally a ticking time bomb. Following the repairs, the statue would be much safer and could again be used, but that was not the end of her secrets.
Most people think that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the nation of France, and while it did come from France, it was actually partly a gift from the manufacturer in France (not the French nation). on top of that, Americans had to pay for the pedestal and partly contributed to the cost of the statue itself. Fundraisers were held in Boston and Philadelphia, in order to win the right to have the statue, but in the end, it went to New York. I’m sure many people who helped with the fundraising were very disappointed. This was another secret of the Statue of Liberty that I did not know.
On June 17, 1885…129 years ago today, the Statue of Liberty, in a dismantled form, arrived in New York Harbor. It was a gift from France to commemorate our friendship with them during the American Revolution. While the Statue of Liberty would not be officially assembled and dedicated until October 8th, 1886, this was it’s official arrival. The Statue of Liberty’s 300 copper pieces packed in 214 crates were transported on the French ship “Isere” to America. Although the ship nearly sank in rough seas, it arrived in New York on June 17, 1885. The Statue’s parts remained unassembled for nearly a year until the pedestal was completed in 1886. What really shocks me is that there were only 350 parts to make up the Statue of Liberty. That seems impossible. Having been to, and inside the Statue of Liberty, I know how big it is. I would have guessed more like 1000 pieces. Today Lady Liberty has become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.
Having been to the Statue of Liberty, I find it very interesting to think that it arrived here 129 years ago today. I don’t know how many of you have been inside the statue, or how far up you were able to go, but I have been to the crown. I was very disappointed that we could not go to the torch, but for safety reasons, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, after an incident called the Black Tom explosions in which munitions-laden barges and railroad cars on the Jersey City, New Jersey, waterfront were blown up by German agents, causing damage to the nearby statue. That was something I didn’t know, and sadly there was nothing that would change it, but I was inside the Statue of Liberty, and it was so amazing…like a dream, not a reality!! I know that lots of people have been there and lots have been inside, and lots have even been to the crown, but I had not…and then I had…and, it was surreal!!
When I think about all the people who have sailed past this statue as they came to their new home…and how many of them were my ancestors or Bob’s ancestors, it is just mind boggling. If she could talk…what stories could she tell. The Statue of Liberty has seen so much. Ships have come and gone, immigrants have arrived, the city has changed…and been attacked. What stories she could tell of happiness, sadness, floods, hurricanes, and terrorism. She has seen the transformation of her near neighbor from the location of Fort Gibson, to the current site of the Ellis Island Immigrant Station. She watched the planes fly into the World Trade Center…and their fall. When I think about all the changes that have taken place in our nation since Lady Liberty arrived, I wish she could speak, because the stories she could tell of our nation’s history would be amazing.