Category Archives: July 4

Hello Again, Lady Liberty!

Statue of Liberty National Monument
Click on photo for Flickr credit
Today the Statue of Liberty re-opens to visitors after being closed since Superstorm Sandy hit the area last October.

The statue was undamaged, sitting on high ground on Liberty Island, but 8 feet of water damaged the island’s boilers and electrical systems, so repairs were necessary before tourists could be admitted.

The Ellis Island Immigrant Museum remains closed.
Given all the widespread damage Sandy caused, you might wonder how the statue survived so well. Lady Liberty is really an engineering marvel. Even though the harbor provides some degree of shelter from most storms, the statue’s designer, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, constructed an internal skeleton that is so mathematically intense it baffles my mind. It’s said to be capable of surviving hurricane force winds. If you’d like to learn more, visit this page or this one. And yes, this is the man who went on to build the Eiffel Tower.
NPS photo
  • The statue has been closed before, including after a bombing incident in 1916 referred to as the Black Tom Explosion, when immigrants on Ellis Island had to be evacuated to Manhattan, and in the aftermath of 9-11.
  • The statue was originally copper-colored like a penny. The oxidation took about thirty years to turn the statue completely green.
  • The torch used to be accessible to visitors, but it has been off limits for safety reasons since the Black Tom Explosion.
  • The arm and torch were on display before the statue was completed, as a fund raising effort.
  • One of the symbolisms the statue bears is a broken chain. It cannot be seen from the ground. It is partially hidden because at the time it was feared it would be too polarizing following the Civil War.
Statue of Liberty National Monument
Click on photo for Flickr credit
I think most Americans are pleased this symbol of our freedom and the first sight many of our immigrant ancestors saw when they first entered our country is open again. Happy 4th, everyone!

To read about an Irish immigrant who passed through Ellis Island, be sure to pick up my new book, Grace’s Pictures.