The holiest ground I have ever stood upon was Liberty Island at the base of the Statue of Liberty. She is an awesome goddess, green and brooding out over the Atlantic. I went there on a tour of NYC with my daughter’s drama class a decade or so ago, and I will never forget that moment of silent reverence on a beautiful spring morning.
Just the Facts, Ma’am.
Spike That Fact! The seven spikes represent the seven seas and seven continents of the world, according to the Web sites of the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty Club. “That’s not true,” says Barry Moreno, author of The Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia and the park’s official librarian. The spikes are sun rays, he says, and the circle is “simply a halo or what in art is called a nimbus, showing she is divine.” He adds that the Web site needs to be changed.
Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me! The statue is fashioned from copper atop an undergirding of steel. The copper in the statue weighs 31 tons, the steel weighs 125 tons and the concrete foundation is 27,000 tons.
Do Not Torch The statue’s torch has been closed to the public since the “Black Tom” explosions in 1916. German agents sabotaged a munitions depot on a nearby island on July 30, 1916, and shrapnel damaged the statue’s torch and skirt. Today, members of the National Park Service must scale a 40-foot ladder to tend to the floodlights in the torch.
Winds of Change When the wind blows 50 miles an hour, the statue sways three inches and the torch shifts five inches. This caused damage to the statue until the underlying steel was replaced.
Give Me Liberty and Give Me Death Though the statue symbolizes hope and optimism to millions, it has been the setting for at least three suicides over the years, says Moreno. He believes the first may have been in 1929, when a young fellow, turned down by his girlfriend, threw himself from the crown. In 1997, the New York Daily News reported that a 30-year-old man from Senegal plunged 100 feet to his death. “All indications are that it was a suicide,” said Manny Strumpf, the National Park Service spokesman at the time. There have been no murders that Moreno is aware of, but there was a 2006 novel titled Murder at the Statue of Liberty — by Manny Strumpf.
Liberty Goes Hollywood The Statue of Liberty has starred in films since cinema’s early days. Charlie Chaplin featured it in his 1917 film The Immigrant. And Alfred Hitchcock used the statue as a backdrop for his 1942 feature film The Saboteur.
The Statue’s Trident Vandalism is a perennial problem, park service officials say. When the crown was open, people put chewing gum all over the place and wrote their names with lipstick.
For many more stories of the construction and reconstruction of Lady Liberty, check out wikipedia.