Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled 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!”
Americans would know that the abovementioned verse is a passage from the sonnet The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. The sonnet is associated with the Statue of Liberty, and it is engraved on a plate installed on the inner wall of the statue’s pedestal.
Among the icons often associated with the United States, the Statue of Liberty has always been one of the most prominent. As highlighted by Lazarus poem, the Statue of Liberty particularly symbolizes the status of the United States as an immigrant nation in previous centuries, and the first sight that greets the downtrodden immigrants about to land on Ellis Island, full of hope for a new life in America, is that of Lady Liberty. Until now, the Statue of Liberty stands as the embodiment of hope and freedom from oppression.
The Statue of Liberty is a gift given by France to the United States in 1886 in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the United States’ independence from the British. It was constructed out of copper by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, with the inner structure designed by Alexander Gustave Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. She was shipped from France to New York in 350 pieces, and constructing her took four months. Today, Lady Liberty stands on Liberty Island at the mouth of Hudson River in the City of New York, upon a ten-story pedestal above a foundation shaped like an eleven-pointed star. On her pedestal she faces the ocean, looking towards France.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most popular tourist attractions of New York City. Thousands of people take the ferry ride to Liberty Island to visit her every year. On Liberty Island, these visitors could go on a tour of Lady Liberty’s home. They could go to the Statue of Liberty Museum, where they could see the original torch carried by Lady Liberty, the smaller models used by Bartholdi in constructing the statue, various copies of the statue including a full-size scale, as well as other collectibles and memorabilia pertaining to the Statue of Liberty. The internal steel structure that holds the Statue of Liberty up can also be seen through the glass ceiling of the pedestal. For those who are easily bored with museum tours, the public is welcome to enjoy the grounds around Lady Liberty’s pedestal, to hold a picnic there and to relax.
Before, visitors to the Statue of Liberty are allowed to climb up to her crown and torch by groups of thirty. While the view from her crown does not include the skyline of New York City, it does offer the visitor a chance to see how Lady Liberty looks from the inside. However, because of the September 11 attacks, visitors are no longer allowed inside the statue. Security in fact remains a serious concern on Liberty Island, and visitors are subjected to searches before they are allowed onto the island.
Of all the icons associated with the United States, the Statue of Liberty is the one symbol that seems to capture what the country is supposed to stand for – freedom. There she stands on her island, seeming to guard the shores.