Liberty's Back ; the Famous Symbol of America Reopens to Tourists Tuesday

Article excerpt

Now it is revered as a national symbol, but in the beginning the Statue of Liberty didn't get much respect. France's grand gift of friendship was first greeted with an "it'll never happen" attitude from Americans. When it began to look as though the French were going to pull it off, the project was dismissed as "New York's lighthouse," not a national treasure.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World" (its actual title) was closed to the public. Officials were concerned that the statue would be the target of a terrorist attack.

The statue is scheduled to be reopened Tuesday, though visitors will no longer be able to climb the stairs to the viewing platform in the crown. (The ladder to the torch has been closed since 1916.) Visitors will gaze up into the statue's interior through a thick glass ceiling at the uppermost level of the pedestal. Enhanced lighting and a new video system have been installed. Visitors may walk out onto the pedestal's observation deck once more, but they will have to make reservations to tour inside the pedestal. For the price of a ferry ride anyone can tour Liberty (formerly Bedloe's) Island - and visit the gift shop.

We may have Joseph Pulitzer to thank for the statue being in New York. At one point, funds to build the statue's pedestal had run out, and construction on the barely-begun base had ceased. Meanwhile, workers in France were completing the statue. A committee from Boston reportedly approached the French and offered to host the statue there. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Cleveland also expressed interest - even Baltimore and Minneapolis. Pulitzer began to campaign tirelessly for the pedestal fund. Within five months, the necessary funds had been raised.

A colossus arises in New York

Summer 1865 Antislavery leader Edouard de Laboulaye conceives the idea for the Statue of Liberty at a gathering in his home near Versailles, France. It is shortly after Lincoln's assassination, an event the French feel deeply. De Laboulaye proposes a very large gift to the United States to honor the historic amitie (friendship) between the two nations. The people of France will create and pay for a statue. The people of America will fund and construct a pedestal for it. Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi is sent to America to study the situation. By the time he lands in New York, he has an idea.

November 1875 The Franco-American Union is formed to make plans and collect funds. Construction of the statue begins.

January 1877 The American Committee for the construction of the pedestal is created. …