Named after the Roman Goddess Libertas, the monumental Statue of Liberty stands tall on the 12 acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Lady Liberty was a gift from the French to mark 100 years of American Independence. This colossal neoclassical sculpture was a beacon of hope and an relief of welcome to the million immigrants who were fleeing from their motherlands in search of refuge. In 2009, TIME summed up the essence of the Statue of Liberty as “a fixture of New York City and a symbol for the nation.”
Before you set off to witness Lady Liberty in all her glory, there are some things you must know to have a confusion free excursion. So, I have stitched up an inclusive guide that details all you need to know before you visit the Statue of Liberty - an FAQ section, the symbolism of Statue of Liberty, ticket categories, cruise details and a few insider tips to make your Statue of Liberty visit truly liberating!
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- Statue of Liberty Facts Simplified
- Different Ways to Visit the Statue of Liberty
- Statue of Liberty Tickets
- Statue of Liberty Tour Ticket Categories
- Visiting the Pedestal at the Statue of Liberty
- Visiting the Crown at the Statue of Liberty
- All You Need To Know before Visiting the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty Facts Simplified
Why was the Statue of Liberty built?
Back in 1865, Edouard de Laboulaye, President of the French Anti-Slavery Society proposed that a statue representing liberty be built for the United States to commemorate the alliance of France and the United States during the American Revolution. Other reasons that led to this decision by Edouard de Laboulaye was to celebrate the centennial of American independence, the country's friendship with France and as a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. The geographical position of the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to the port of New York gave it a more broader meaning over the years. This location gave Lady Liberty the status of the Mother of Exiles, greeting millions of immigrants and embodying hope and opportunity in its simplest form. It was a beacon for 60 years and brought joy, fear, too, but mainly the hope of a better life than what was experienced in Europe then.
When was the Statue of Liberty built?
The Statue of Liberty was built by the French Sculptor Auguste Bartholdi in France and took all of 9 years with ten hour days of toil and seven day work weeks. It was then dismantled into 350 pieces and packed into 214 crates so as to ship it from France to New York. Though it was presented to America on July 4th, it took 4 months to resassemble the Statue in New York. Finally on Oct 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled during a ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland . On October 2018, the Statue of Liberty will turn 133 years old.
Where is the Statue of Liberty?
The location of the Statue of Liberty has always been ambiguous to say the least. Since most tours combine sightseeing of Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty, many think that the Statue of Liberty stands on Ellis Island. This is however not true. Lady Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor whereas Ellis Island is where the National Museum of Immigration resides. Another common confusion is where Statue of Liberty is in New York or New Jersey. Though the Statue of Liberty is technically closer to New Jersey than New York and resides in New Jersey's waters, a pact between NY and NJ ratified back in 1834 declared the Statue of Liberty within territorial jurisdiction of the State of New York.
Who built & designed the Statue of Liberty?
French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi along with French engineer Gustave Eiffel designed and built the Statue of Liberty. While Bartholdi is said to be the one designed the statue, Eiffel, who was responsible for the Eiffel Tower is the one who created the frame for the statue. History goes that Bartholdi had designed a statue similar to Lady Liberty to to commemorate the opening of Egypt's Suez Canal. This monument was designed to be a woman holding up a torch over her head dressed in Arab peasant garb as Bartholdi was known to have been enamored with Egyptian pyramids. However, this did not work out hence the artist recycled his design, made the Arab garb into a Greco-Roman goddess and lo behold! the Statue of Liberty, as we know her, was born. There was a third person of American origin who helped make the Statue of Liberty too. Richard Morris Hunt was the American architect who designed the pedestal the statue is placed on.
What is the Statue of Liberty made of?
The Statue of Liberty is made of an iron frame with a thin sheet of pure copper plastered over. A total 31 tons of copper and 125 tons of steel has been used in the construction of the Statue of Liberty. Due to the pure copper plaster layer, the Statue of Liberty's original colour was a shiny reddish brown. Due to the corrosion and chemical reaction between metal and water over the years, scientifically called patination, it has turned blue green shade. The torch flame was initially coated with copper but during the 1916 rennovation, a lot of the copper durface was chipped off to install glass windows. This led to intensive corrosion as water and snow leaked in through the window panes. Hence, the original torch was taken off and displayed in the museum while Lady Liberty was given a freshly gold leaf coated torch to hold. What you see today is the replacement torch.
How tall is the Statue of Liberty?
From the base to the torch, the Statue of Liberty is 151 ft. tall. However, if you include the pedestal and foundation, the Statue of Liberty stands 305 ft. tall. Some other interesting dimensions of the Statue of Liberty are her feet which is a whopping US size 879 ( yes, she has big feet), a face that is a little over 8 ft. tall and her waist which is a rather slender 35ft. She has a sizeable nose which happens to be 4ft and 6 inches big and she weighs a total of 4,50,000 pounds.
What is the Statue of Liberty holding?
Lady Liberty holds a torch in her right hand, above her head which denotes the symbol of enlightment. In her left hand she carries a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) which is engrained with the inscription JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776), the date of American Independence.
What is the Statue of Liberty poem?
In order to raise money for the construction of the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stays mounted, American poet Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet in 1883 called the "The New Colossus" also known as the Statue of Liberty poem .At that time, the poem did not recieve due attention and was easily forgotten after money for the pedestal flowed in. However, after Emma's death in 1887, one of her friend's began a campaign to commemorate her and her sonnet. This campaign was a nation wide success and moved people to such an extent that it was voted to cast the poem on a bronze plaque and mount it inside the pedestal's lower level in 1903.
Different Ways to Visit the Statue of Liberty
If you hop on the Staten Island Ferry you can glide past the Statue of Liberty with a great view, best part being it is absolutely free of cost. All you have to do is, take a subway to South Ferry or Bowling Green and then take a free ferry ride across the harbour. The only disadvantage is that you don't get to go inside the Statue of Liberty, up the crown or pedestal and neither will you get to visit the museum on Ellis Island. This ferry does not go too close to the Statue of Liberty and neither does it stop for photos near it, so keep your camera ready if you want good clicks.
While entry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island are free, there is only one official ferry service that is allowed to ‘land’ on the islands – Statue Cruises. Hence, if you intend to do a guided tour or a self guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and go all the way up to the pedestal and crown, this is your best and only bet. There are different ticket categories in this which I will be delving into in the next section.
Harbor Cruise Tours
If you're interested in seeing the Statue of Liberty by the night, or see all of Manhattan's skyline from the water along with the Statue of Liberty, you can purchase tickets for cruises that will take you around the Statue of Liberty but won't drop you on the Islands. This is a great deal for those who are looking to experience the city from the New York Harbor and skip entering the Statue of Liberty. These paid harbor cruises stop for a photo op near the Statue of Liberty so you can click pictures galore then!
Statue of Liberty Tickets
Statue of Liberty Tour Ticket Categories
This is most basic ticket available to visit the Statue of Liberty. It includes a ferry ride to Liberty Island and Ellis Island along with access to the immigration museum on Ellis Island. It does not include entry into the Statue of Liberty, but you are allowed to walk around the grounds. The Reserve Ticket also offers a self-guided Audio Tour headset for your visit to Liberty and Ellis Island. The advantages of buying a Reserve Ticket is that you get priority entry into the Screening Facility and you get to enter the boat first during departure.Reserve Ticket with Pedestal Access( $18)
The rest of the conditions for this ticket remains the same as the above, except you will be given access to go all the way up to the Fort Wood section also known as the Pedestal. You will however, not be able to enter the Crown with this ticket. Though you are given priority access during the primary screening, you will not be given priority access during the second screening that happens before entering the Statue of Liberty. Since the price for the Reserve ticket and the one with Pedestal Access is the same, I’d suggest opting for this ticket. An aerial view is always better!Reserve Ticket with Crown Access ($21)
This is most sought after ticket and sells like hot cakes. This ticket allows you entry to the Fort Wood section and all the way to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. Though the views are terrific, it comes with effort as you are required to climb 162 narrow tight steps from the Pedestal to the Crown. Booking these tickets come with a strict set of rules :
- Only 4 tickets are permissible per card holder/ per household
- Names on the tickets are strictly non transferable
- The person who has made the payment/ credit card holder should be physically present to collect the tickets.
- Relevant photo ID proof matching the name on the ticket is to be shown at entrance.
- You can go up to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty only once in 6 months.
- There is no elevator access from the top of the pedestal to the crown platform
- Children below 4 feet who cannot climb the stairs by themselves are not allowed entry
Visiting The Pedestal at the Statue of Liberty
Many people wonder if visiting the Pedestal at the Statue of Liberty is worth it. I think it definitely is worth the money spent and the 215 steps up because of many a reasons. The Pedestal at the Statue of Liberty is basically an entire building, housing a museum that details history about the making of Lady Liberty. It has a lobby, exhibits on 2 floors and a 10th floor observatory. The most famous exhibit in here in the Torch Exhibit, the original 1886 torch that Lady Liberty used to hold. This exhibit is displayed on the first floor. Famous exhibits on the second floor include the Mother of Exiles, Becoming the Statue of America and The Statue in Popular Culture along with a whole bunch of photos, documents, sketches and artifacts. To get to the top of the Pedestal, you can either climb 215 steps up or take the elevator all the way up. Note, there are a few steps to climb before and after the elevator.Know Before You Visit The Pedestal
- The Pedestal Entrance is a white tent behind the statue.
- You are required to flash your ticket at the entrance to gain admission.
- You are not allowed to carry food, beverages, backpacks, strollers, umbrellas and tripods into the Pedestal
- Should you have any of these on you, you can rent a Storage locker for 2 hours at $2 and store these safely. Note, the locker facility accepts only cash.
- When you book your Pedestal Reserve Tickets online, you have a choice of receiving your tickets by email to print at home or to pick them up on the day or in advance from the Will Call Ticket Booth. We'd recommend printing it at home to avoid the queue at Will Call.
Visiting The Crown at the Statue of Liberty
While everyone calls the Lady Liberty's headpiece a crown, it is a diadem in reality. A diadem is a headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty and her diadem is a symbol of liberty. There are 7 spikes on it which stands for the 7 oceans and 7 continents because the idea of liberty is universal. Some also interpret the spikes as the sun's rays which gives it a feeling of a halo to show her divinity. You will find 25 windows on the crown and these are said to represent gemstones found on the earth.
Like the Pedestal, one can go all the way up the Crown as well. However, this required some serious grit and physical endurance. You are required to climb 146 double-helix spiral stairs to reach the Crown and unlike the Pedestal, there is no elevator! This is as good as climbing a 22 storeyed building. If you have health conditions, respiratory conditions, mobility impairments, claustrophobia, acrophobia or vertigo; we recommend not attempting this physical feat.Know Before You Visit The Crown
- You will find a seperate entrance saying "Crown Entrance" to go up the Crown.
- It is mandatory that the name on the ticket and your id proof is the exact same.
- Children below 4 feet will not be allowed entrance
- Crown tickets must be picked up from the Will Call counter at the ferry departure points by the person who purchased them. They may not be printed at home.
- You are only allowed to carry your camera (no case or camera bag) , a bottle of water and medication if you need any to the Crown. Nothing else is allowed to be carried, hence taking a locker on rent is a wise idea.
- The temperature inside the Crown is not controlled, hence dress for the day. It can be hot or cold depending on the weather outside.
All You Need To Know before Visiting the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty Hours
The Statue of Liberty remains open every day except December 25th. Timings for Crown and Pedestal Ticket Holders are as below :
- January 1 to May 26 | 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
- May 27 to September 4 | 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- September 5 to October 9 | 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
- October 10 to December 31 | 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
- Christmas Eve, December 24 | 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM
The First ferry to the Statue of Liberty departs at 8:30 AM ( from Battery Park and Liberty State Park) and runs until about 5:45 PM during peak season and up until 5:00 PM during low season. Funnily enough, there is some ambiguity in the timings on the National Parks Service website and the Statue Cruises website, so it is best to read 2 hours prior your slot time to avoid last minute hassles. You can find the ferry timings here.How to get to the Ferry
The closest subways to the Statue of Liberty are Bowling Green and South Ferry. Follow the signs to Castle Clinton to reach the ferry departure to the Statue of Liberty.Ferry Timings :
- First Ferry from the Mainland - 8:30 AM
- Last Ferry from the Mainland - 3:30 PM
- Last Ferry from Liberty Island - 5:00 PM ( low season) / 5: 45 PM ( peak season)
- Last Ferry from Ellis Island - 5:15 PM
- For a sedate experience of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island along with climbing to the Crown and ferry ride both ways, keep aside 5-6 hours.
- It is recommended to arrive the ferry departure point about 2 hour prior to your slot. This is to avoid rushing in the end as the security check is elaborate and might take a while. During weekends in summer, the lines tend to get really long, so plan your arrival accordingly. An ideal solution is to visit the Statue of Liberty during the week and taking the first ferry out, provided you get a timely slot to climb up Lady Liberty.
- There are a total of 363 steps in each direction so unless you deem yourself fit to climb up and down, do not buy the tickets.
- Use the washroom after the security check near the monument. This is the only facility available inside the Statue so hit it while you can!
- Wear good footwear as you will be spending a lot of time on your feet - climbing, walking, stepping in and out of thr ferry.
- The statue is not climate controlled hence dress for the day. Carry sunblock, jackets, windcheaters, as per the weather.
- The rangers on Liberty Island conduct many tours daily that depart from the flagpole and last for about 30-45 minutes. These tours are free and don't require advance reservations. Check the Information Center on Liberty Island for the schedule of these tours. You can check the schedule for Ranger Tours here.
- If you're not much of a guided tours person and prefer self guided audio tours, you can pick up the audio guide devices from the Information Center and enjoy a tour around Liberty Island. These audio tours are available in multiple languages - English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Specialised Audio Tours are available for children aged 6-10 which will keep them entertained while you learn about the history of Liberty Island.
- There are 2 rounds of security before entering the Statue of Liberty. Once before entering the ferry, you are required to walk through metal detectors and undergo x-ray inspections of baggage. There is a second round before going through the Pedestal or Crown entrance.
- All minors below 17 years or age must be accompanied by an adult 25 or older when traveling to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
- Strollers are not allowed inside the Statue of Liberty (pedestal, museum and crown), but are allowed on the ferry and around Liberty Island.