Statue of Liberty

Liberty Island
New York, NY 10004

Possibly the most recognized symbol of America to generations of people fleeing toward freedom, the Statue of Liberty is none the less the first and undisputedly the greatest lighthouse on the Hudson River. A beacon not just to emigrants and travelers, the Statue as a lighthouse marks the entrance to the inner harbor of New York and warns ships away from the rocky shoals of the western harbor.

Standing 305 feet above the harbor, the great torch of Lady Liberty heralds a welcome to man and ship alike, showing the way to the promise of harbor and safety. Lady Liberty's torch can be seen from well beyond the Verizano Narrows, the mouth of New York harbor, well out to sea.

Long forgotten is the fact that the Statue of Liberty was once a lighthouse. Congress accepted France's monumental gift as work of art and a beacon for New York harbor in 1877. After Liberty's dedication and unveiling in 1886, President Cleveland appointed the US Light-House Board to be its caretaker. Engineers set up a steam dynamo plant on Bedloe's Island and fourteen arc lamps, nine in the torch and five others positioned strategically below at the angles of Fort Wood. Even so, the dimness of the lighting was little help to vessels entering the harbor and efforts were made to increase the illumination. In 1897 , an oil-generating engine was installed to power the lights, but they were still insufficient, and the Liberty Lighthouse closed in 1902. Today, visitors to Liberty Island can learn more about the old Liberty Lighthouse from park rangers.

The Statue of Liberty was declared a national monument by Presidential proclamation on October 15, 1924, the monument boundaries being set at the outer edge of old Fort Wood. The War Department continued to administer the entire island until, in 1933, again by Presidential proclamation, the Statue of Liberty National Monument was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, the Army retaining the remainder of the island as a military post.

In 1937, another Presidential proclamation declared the Army Post abandoned and jurisdiction of the entire island passed to the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

While Bedloe's Island, with an area of approximately 12 acres, is located in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, it is geographically in the territorial waters of New Jersey. The island itself above the mean low-water mark is in New York State, pursuant to an interstate compact entered into by New Jersey and New York in 1834. The State of New Jersey retains the riparian rights to all the submerged land surrounding the statue and extending eastward to the normal interstate boundary line at the middle of the Hudson River Channel.

The actual location of Bedloe's Island is approximately three-eighths land miles offshore from Jersey City, N. J., which is the source of telephone, power, and water services. It is about 1-5/8 land miles from the Battery, at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, New York City. Transportation and mail services are provided by boat from the Battery. At present a privately owned ferry line is operating under contract with the United States Government.

Visiting the Lighthouse

Visiting the Statue of Liberty is extremely easy. You can board a ferry at Battery Park in New York City or at the Central Railroad Terminal located at the north end of Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Fare is charged for the trip and access to both the Status of Liberty Park and Ellis Island. Liberty Island is open from 9:30am until 5pm every day except Christmas.

The ferry ticket office closes prior to park's closing. Due to the park's security procedures please allow for ample time in your visitation plans. Adult Ticket: $10.00, Senior (62 and over): $8.00, Child (4-12): $4.00, Under 4:Free.

Liberty Island, the statue and its base were closed immediately after the events across the harbor of September 11, 2001. On December 20, 2001 Liberty Island was reopened to the public for visits, but the statue and museums located in the base remain closed. Visitors to the island can tour the grounds and outdoor exhibits and take free scheduled tours guided by Park Rangers. The 45 minute tours explain the conception, construction, and restoration of one of the world's greatest monuments. Island history and harbor environs and answers to any question you may have are covered by our Stetson-wearing staff. Schedule of offerings posted at Information Center.

The New Colossus

The "New Colossus": written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. Proceeds that were raised from its auction were used to complete the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. This plaque memorialized the sonnet in 1903 and was placed on the inner walls of the Statue's pedestal. It currently is displayed in the Statue of Liberty exhibit. The original handwritten sonnet is housed by the American Jewish Historical Society.

Not like the brazen giant of Green fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Here at our sea-washed, sunset- gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome, her mild eyes command
The air-bidged harbor that twin-cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she,
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddles masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore;
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


The Statue From The Inside

1. Entrance to the base of the statue is through the high walls of old Fort Wood, through what was originally the fort's principal sally port. Its doors are 4 inches thick.

To the left of these heavy doors is a bronze tablet on which is inscribed the Emma Lazarus sonnet, The New Colossus, quoted on page 1. Of the many poems pertaining to the statue, this is the most widely known. It was written in 1883 for the Portfolio of the Art Loan Collection to aid the pedestal fund.

2. The walls of the fort, more than 20-feet thick at the base, are pierced by a corridor of brick vault-work which opens into the passageway leading to the stairway and to the elevator within the pedestal foundation.

A small fee is charged adults for use of the elevator which goes to the balcony level, near the top of the stonework, a height equal to that of a 10-story building.

In the corridor beyond the elevator shaft several interpretive wall plaques are mounted.

3. During pleasant weather, many visitors take the stairway, reached by a passageway on the right side of the sally port corridor to the promenade which, more than 50 years ago, was the terreplein, or gun platform, of the old fort.

4. Now paved, the space between the wall and the terraced lawn surrounding the pedestal provides a pleasant walk and affords an opportunity to study the details of the statue's construction.

5. From the promenade, stairways lead to the second level within the pedestal. Here are the dedication tablets presented by the Franco-American Union, donor of the statue and the American Committee which erected the pedestal.

6. Six stories above is the fourth level, at the foot of the statue. On this floor are several additional plaques, like those in the passageway below, upon which are excerpts from the written works of great Americans. From here one may ascend the spiral stairway system to the crown, 12 additional stories above, or go out on the balcony to view New York Harbor and read the interpretive labels which describe the surrounding area.

7. In the spiral there are 2 stairways, each of 168 steps, winding about the same central column within the towerlike supporting structure of the statue. One is for ascending, the other for descending. There are two rest platforms, situated at one-third and two-thirds of the distance to the top, which enable visitors to pause without delaying those behind them. Anyone finding the climb too arduous may cross over to the descending stair.

The right arm, which holds aloft the torch, has been closed to the public for many years. The ladder in this arm is now used by the maintenance staff in replacing the lighting equipment in the torch.

8. At the top of the stairway is the observation platform within the head—260 feet above sea level and large enough to accommodate 30 people. Visitors may look through a series of 25 windows which are the jewels of the crown beneath the 7 rays of the diadem. From this level can best be seen the tablet of the law in the left hand of the Goddess of Liberty, bearing the Roman letters of the date July 4, 1776.

From within the crown, or more conveniently from the balcony surrounding the pedestal, a splendid view is afforded of the changing panorama that is New York. On clear days objects within a radius of 15 miles can be seen. To the north is the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River. The Manhattan sky line, the bridges spanning the East River, Governor's Island, and the main channel through which pass the world's largest ships are in the immediate foreground. To the south, the visitors can see the shore of Raritan Bay, N. J., and Staten Island, guarded by Forts Hamilton and Wadsworth. To the southwest is the great steel arch bridge over Kill van Kull, joining Staten Island to the New Jersey mainland. In this area are acres of tanks and refining equipment which identify the region as one of the largest oil-refining centers in the United States.

Due west of the island are the heavily industrialized areas of New Jersey. The eastern terminals of the Lehigh Valley, Jersey Central, Lackawanna, and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads are located here. Farther west and northwest, the great Pulaski Skyway and the series of bridges over the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers are easily discerned.

To the north also lies Ellis Island. Through this island's gateway, from 1892 to the beginning of World War I, came 10 million immigrants, to whom the Statue of Liberty represented the freedom which they sought in the New World. Today, most immigrants see Ellis Island only as they sail by. Only those who cannot pass the immigration inspection at Quarantine in the Narrows are held at Ellis Island until their cases are disposed of.

This text is taken from a 1954 guide NPS guide book.


Lighthouse Contacts & Address

Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island
New York, NY 10004
Web Page

Statue of Liberty Vital Statistics
Height from to of base to torch 151'1" 46.05m
Ground to tip of torch 305'1" 92.99m
Heel to top of head 111'1" 33.86m
Length of hand 16'5" 5.00m
Index finger 8'0" 2.44m
Head from chin to cranium 17'3" 5.26m
Head thickness from ear to ear 10'0" 3.05m
Distance across the eye 2'6" .76m
Length of nose 4'6" 1.37m
Length of right arm 42'0" 12.80m
Thickness of right arm 12'0" 3.66m
Thickness of waist 35'0" 10.67m
Width of mouth 3'0" .91m
Length of tablet 23'7" 7.19m
Width of tablet 13'7" 4.14m
Thickness of tablet 2'0" .61m
Ground to top of pedestal 154'0" 46.94m

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This presentation on the Lighthouses of the Hudson River has been created in partnership with HV/Net. For more information on everything there is to see and do in this most magnificent of valleys, click on the image at left.