New York’s Statue of Liberty depicts a robed Roman goddess bearing a torch and a tablet upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. With a broken chain laying at her feet, she is an icon of freedom, and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
No charge is made for entrance to the Statue of Liberty monument, but there is a cost for the ferry service that all visitors must use, and these can get very crowded. The ferries to Liberty Island, which depart from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, also stop at nearby Ellis Island, making a combined trip possible.
Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916 and will never open again. Ascending the steps to the crown, however, is possible for all. I pre-booked my ticket over 6 months in advance, as it was an experience I didn’t want to miss out on. About 250 people per day are permitted to ascend: ten per group, and three groups per hour. I cannot emphasise how tight and cramped the stairway is up the crown observation area. You can really tell this thing is over a century old! I don’t think it would pass Health and Safety inspections nowadays if the design was submitted to the authorities!
I began to get pretty bad vertigo about half way up the spiral staircase, a bit like how my body slowed down and almost froze – I didn’t want to look up but then again, I didn’t want to look down! What do I do, shut my eyes?! The first thing I realised is that I was NOT going to take photos, so my camera went in my pocket. Somehow, though, despite the claustrophobic and nauseating feelings, I managed to get to the top, and the views were pretty awesome over the harbour. There were 2 security guards camped up there with flasks of tea. I wonder how long their shifts are?!
The original torch of the Statue of Liberty was found to be crumbling in the 1980s so the whole statue was closed while it got refurbished. The torch was replaced with a new one, and the original was placed inside the Pedestal Museum for visitors to look at while walking around. It provides a nice centrepiece to the museum, especially at night when everything is full lit.
When I see places like the Statue of Liberty on TV and on the news, I always dream of one day being able to visit in person. Luckily, I had the chance to take ‘liberties’ (hehehe) with Miss America in 2015, but the climb to the crown observation deck may not be for everyone as it is very cramped and congested.