Torch of freedom
Ramesh Seth

THE Statue of Liberty, standing outside the New York harbour, is universally regarded as the emblem of the United States of America. The Lady with the Torch stands still, tall and proud. Below the statue is inscribed, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore".

Those noble words, full of hope are addressed to the rest of the old world. Before air travel became popular and affordable, people came to America by sea only. And the Europeans landed mostly in New York. Therefore when the idea came to install the Statue of Liberty, it had to be outside the New York harbour so that all those who came to America had their first glimpse of Liberty, of a life so different from the one left behind in Europe.

Located on 12-acre Liberty Island in New York harbour, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy. Liberty Island is federal property located within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of New York, although it falls within the territorial waters of the State of New Jersey. It was agreed upon that the American people were to build the pedestal, and the French people were responsible for the statue and its assembly here in the United States.

The pedestal construction was finished in April of 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June of 1885 on board the French frigate "Isere" which transported the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months time. On October 28, 1886, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift 10 years late.

There are 25 windows in the crown which symbolise gemstones found on the earth and the heaven’s rays shining over the world. The seven rays of the Statue’s crown represent the seven seas and continents of the world. The tablet which the Statue holds in her left hand reads (in Roman numerals) "July 4th, 1776". The total weight of copper in the Statue is 31 tons and the total weight of steel in the Statue is 125 tons. Total weight of the Statue’s concrete foundation is 27,000 tons. The copper sheeting of the Statue is 3/32 of an inch thick or 2.37mm.

Visitors will be able to view inside the Statue through a glass ceiling, guided by a park ranger and an enhanced lighting and new video system. Visitors can also walk out onto the Statue’s observation deck to see the panoramic views of New York City and the harbour, and witness the Statue up close from her promenade and Ft. Wood. The Statue’s crown is not accessible and the torch has been officially closed since July 1916. The Statue had to take the wind sway factor in calculation as well. The winds at the speed of 50 miles per hour cause the Statue to sway almost three inches and the torch sways five inches. The Statue of Liberty was designated as a national monument on October 15, 1924. After 100 years of its inauguration, the Statue was extensively restored in time for her spectacular centennial on July 4, 1986.