Lady Liberty. What a grand nickname. What a great gift from the French, back in the 19th century when they still liked us.
Today, July 4, 2009, marks the first time since the 9/11 attacks that people have been allowed back into her crown. Eventually, some 200,000 people each year will get the unmatched thrill of seeing New York from one of the 25 windows. Not right away, though, as only three groups of 10 are allowed up each hour. You can reserve your “Crown ticket” up to a year in advance. There’s no elevator, so if you want to go, be ready to climb 354 steps up and back down. Oh, and it’s not air conditioned. And there are no bathrooms.
The Statue of Liberty is the most recognizable symbol of freedom and democracy in the world. That’s reflected in its official name: “Liberty Enlightening the World,” chosen by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. The internal skeleton was created by Gustave Eiffel, who proceeded to create a pretty famous tower of his own.
It’s impossible to tell now, but the Statue is constructed of copper. Some 62,000 pounds of it, actually. And ours isn’t the only one in existence. Bartholdi created two smaller models as he perfected his design. The first is still in Paris, while the second sits outside the city hall in Maceio, Brazil.
But it’s our majestic Lady Liberty that thrills hundreds thousands of visitors each year. And inspires millions more. Hold that torch high, Lady. We need you now more than ever.