Approaching Statue of Liberty 2015
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

An iconic landmark, every year the Statue of Liberty draws approximately 3.5 million visitors. Countless more stand in Battery Park, Liberty Park and other places to gaze upon her.  While Lady Liberty is instantaneously recognizable, how much do you know about the statue itself?

10 Fun Facts About the Statue of Liberty

1. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. It was given on America’s birthday, July 4 in the year 1884. The idea for this gift was born in Paris in 1865. According to National Geographic, a “group of Frenchmen were discussing their dictator-like emperor” and that of the U.S. democratic government. Eventually, this idea was brought to realization as French supporters raised money (no contributions from the government) to build it and contributors in the United States paid for the pedestal on which the statue would stand. Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi imagined a female statue holding a torch to represent the light of freedom.  Barthodli sculpted the gift and engineer Gustave Eiffel designed its framework.

Statue of Liberty torch
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Lady Liberty holding her torch

2. France brought the statue across the ocean in 350 pieces packed in 214 crates. The gift was first presented to the United States in Paris and then taken apart and rebuilt upon arrival to its new home. She arrived in June 1885 and was dedicated the following year by President Grover Cleveland.

3.  The Statue of Liberty is made up of copper. Her thickness is 3/32 inches (approximately 2.5 mm) thick. The National Park Service (NPS) likens this to being the same as “two American pennies placed together”. [3] Her internal makeup is cast iron and stainless steel.

4. Lady Liberty stands at 305 feet, 1 inch tall (93 m) from the ground to the tip of her torch. This is equated to a 22-story building.  Without the pedestal, her height is still impressive, it is equated to that of a 15-story building, standing at 151 feet (about 46 meters).  In the left hand of the Statue of Liberty is a tablet which is 23 feet, 7 inches in length, 13 feet, 7 inches in width; its thickness is 2 feet. Scripted on the tablet in Roman numerals is JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4th, 1776).  

5. Miss Liberty was given a home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor and she is positioned to face southeast. The island is located next to what would soon become the Ellis Island Immigration Station and the statue would become a welcoming symbol to those immigrating to America (Ellis Island opened in 1892 essentially replacing Castle Garden which operated from 1820 through 1892). [4] Ellis Island closed in 1943 and is now open to visitors to learn more about this period in U.S. history.  Today Lady Liberty still serves as a symbol of friendship, freedom and welcome.

6. On Lady Liberty’s pedestal is an inscription; a poem written by Emma Lazarus and entitled "The New Colossus" that includes the famous phrase, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” [5] Lazarus was born in New York. She had penned the poem in 1883 to help raise funding for the statue's pedestal.

7. Today visitors can visit the island, the pedestal or the crown. All require tickets – if you want to visit the pedestal or climb the spiral stairs to reach the crown, you must book these tickets well in advance. There are 162 stairs from the pedestal to the crown and the passageway is quite narrow. There are 354 steps from the ground to the top (but there is an elevator from the ground to the pedestal for visitors to use). Many decades ago visitors were also allowed to climb to the torch, but the torch was closed to the public in 1916.

Steps to crown.Statue of Liberty
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Looking up at a section of the spiral steps that lead to the crown

8. The inside of the crown is a lot more cramped than you might imagine. I thought people would be able to walk in a circle around it, but it’s not structured this way. You can only view into the Harbor, see Manhattan Island and Brooklyn, to name a few of the lovely views. There are 25 small windows (which at least some of them do open!) located in the crown where visitors can gaze out. Lady Liberty has seven rays in her crown which represent the seven seas and seven continents of the world.  

Inside the Crown of the Statue of Liberty
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Photo taken inside the crown this summer. It was a balmy July morning and some of the windows were open.

9. Over the years the statue’s once shining brown (penny-colored) copper has turned green. This is due to natural oxidation that has occurred. The oxidation process took about 30 years.

10. Lady Liberty is one massive statue. You might be wondering how much she weighs? The copper weighs 62,000 pounds (31 tons) and the steel amounts to 250,000 pounds (125 tons). The statue’s foundation, made of concrete, comes to 54 million pounds (27,000 tons).

Bonus fun fact: Did you know the current torch located on top of the statue is not the original? The original was removed in 1984 and replaced by the current one in 1986. Visitors can see the original in the lobby of the pedestal.  I did not know this until my July 2016 visit.

Original Statue of Liberty torch
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Original torch is on display

In October 1924 the Statue of Liberty become a national monument and in 1933 the National Park Service took over administration. Over the decades the Statue of Liberty has become one of the top tourist destinations in New York and in the United States. I’ve been to the island three times, but this summer was the first time I had the opportunity to visit the pedestal and crown.

Visitor Tips

If you would like to visit the island, chances are you can get a ticket with short notice (I've done it on the same day), but if you want to visit the pedestal or climb the steps to the crown, you must book tickets well in advance (we did it back in February for a July visit; a friend got hers in mid-March). There is strict criteria to reserve tickets and also to visit the crown - you can basically only carry medication, water and a camera - there are cash-only lockers visitors can use to store other items. Be sure to look at the current rules before planning your trip. If you are traveling with several people, also know you can only book 4 tickets on a credit card when you make your reservations and tickets are non-transferable. They are only good for the person listed on the ticket.

Approaching Statue of Liberty
Credit: Leigh Goessl