Statue of Liberty Handbook


Statue of Liberty History

The Statue of Liberty National Monument officially celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986. The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as this international friendship.

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion, to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France and 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. However, lack of funds was a problem on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were among the methods used to raise funds. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds. Meanwhile in France, Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such as colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue's copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. Back in America, fund raising for the pedestal was going particularly slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer (noted for the Pulitzer Prize) opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper, "The World" to support the fund raising effort. Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds. Pulitzer's campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.

Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and 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 28th 1886, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.

The story of the Statue of Liberty and her island has been one of change. The Statue was placed upon a granite pedestal inside the courtyard of the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood (which had been completed for the War of 1812.) The United States Lighthouse Board had responsibility for the operation of the Statue of Liberty until 1901. After 1901, the care and operation of the Statue was placed under the War Department. A Presidential Proclamation declared Fort Wood (and the Statue of Liberty within it) a National Monument on October 15th, 1924 and the monument's boundary was set at the outer edge of Fort Wood. In 1933, the care and administration of the National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service. On September 7, 1937, jurisdiction was enlarged to encompass all of Bedloe's Island and in 1956, the island's name was changed to Liberty Island.

On May 11, 1965,  Ellis Island was also transferred to the National Park Service and became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In May of 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., to date the most successful such partnership in American history. In 1984, at the start of the Statue's restoration, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site. On July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend, which celebrated her centennial. The Statue of Liberty was closed as a result of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Although Liberty Island re-opened after being closed for 100 days, the Statue remained closed until August 3, 2004. Visitors now have access to the Statue's pedestal obervation deck, promenade, museum and the area of Fort Wood.


Statue Statistics

Height from top of base to torch 151'1" 46.05m
Ground to tip of torch 305'1" 92.99m
Heel to top of head 111'1" 33.86m
Length of hand 16'5" 5.00m
Index finger 8'0" 2.44m
Head from chin to cranium 17'3" 5.26m
Head thickness from ear to ear 10'0" 3.05m
Distance across the eye 2'6" .76m
Length of nose 4'6" 1.37m
Length of right arm 42'0" 12.80m
Thickness of right arm 12'0" 3.66m
Thickness of waist 35'0" 10.67m
Width of mouth 3'0" .91m
Length of tablet 23'7" 7.19m
Width of tablet 13'7" 4.14m
Thickness of tablet 2'0" .61m
Ground to top of pedestal 154'0" 46.94m

There are 25 windows in the crown which symbolize 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 62,000 pounds (31 tons) and the total weight of steel in the Statue is 250,000 pounds (125 tons). Total weight of the Statue's concrete foundation is 54 million pounds (27,000 tons). The copper sheeting of the Statue is 3/32 of an inch thick or 2.37mm.

Wind sway: winds of 50 miles per hour cause the Statue to sway 3 inches (7.62cm) and the torch sways 5 inches (12.70cm).

On October 28th, 1886 was inaugurated. President Grover Cleveland accepted the Statue on behalf of the United States and said in part: "We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected."

The National Park Service commemorates the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty annually on October 28th.


Park Hours and Visitor Activities

Park Hours for Liberty Island: 8:30am - 6:00pm.

The ferry ticket office closes prior to park's closing. Due to the park's security procedures please allow for ample time in your visitation plans. There is no entrance fee to the park.

Ferry Ticket Prices - Adult: $11:50, Senior (62 and over): $9:50, Child (4-12): $4.50, Under 4:Free.

As a normal part of closing procedures, access to areas of the park will close prior to the final boat departure.

*Visitor Notice: Visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island pass through security screening before boarding the ferry. Click below for updated visitor, security and reservation guidelines.

Updated visitor, security, and reservations guidelines .

Liberty Island Activities:

Island Tours: Ranger-guided tours of the island's grounds are offered free of charge at regularly scheduled times through the day (staff permitting). Program listings are posted at the island's Administration/Information building.

Ranger-guided tours of Liberty Island are offered with ASL - American Sign Language translation at scheduled intervals. For a schedule of ASL translated tours click here.

Audio Tours: are also available from the island's food and gift concessionaire. These tours are available in English,Italian, French, German, Spanish and Japanese and can be rented for $6.00.


Timed Passes: access to the monument (lobby, museum, promenade, and pedestal observation deck) requires a time-pass and is ranger-guided. A limited number of time-passes are available at the ferry ticket offices on a first-come, first-served basis. Time-passes can also be reserved in advance by calling 1-866-STATUE4 (U.S. calls only). International callers can (212) 269-5755. On-line purchases can be made at: An advanced ferry ticket must also be purchased at the same time. There will be a handling fee of $1.75 per ferry ticket purchased.

Public Access at Liberty Island:

1. Lobby, Promenade, Museum, Fort Wood and the 10th Floor Pedestal Observation Level : stroll into the lobby where visitors can experience the original torch., the Statue of Liberty Exhibit, then proceed to the promenade area for an up close view of the statue and a spectacular view of New York Harbor. Visitors can stroll the 11-point star-shaped Fort Wood and take an elevator to the ten-story pedestal observatory. People can get a full circle view of the harbor and a close-up view of Lady Liberty.

The Statue's crown and torch are not accessible.

Ranger Guided Tours: 45 minute tours explaining the conception, construction, and restoration of one of the world's greatest monuments. Island history and harbor environs and answers to any question you may have are covered by our Stetson-wearing staff. (free - available first-come, first-served). Schedule of offerings posted at Information Center.



Educational Programs

Visiting the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum can be a rich and rewarding experience for school groups. In order to preserve and protect the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and ensure visitor safety, we ask that the following rules and regulations be adhered to during your school group visit.


Junior Ranger Program: available for kids at the Statue of Liberty. This self-guided program gives children an opportunity to learn about one of the world's most famous symbols of freedom. Use the booklet to complete fun activities that teach children about the National Park Service and this site and why it is important to protect and preserve this National Monument. The booklet takes about 1 hour to complete and can be obtained at the Liberty Island Information Center or on-line here: Click here for Junior Park Ranger Booklet. Recommended for ages 7-12.

(This is an on-site program only. The program cannot be completed on-line or through the mail))

Web Rangers Program: a national on-line junior park ranger program has been unveiled for kids of all ages to participate in. Visit for more information.

Activity Sheets: available for groups or individuals that are on a limited time schedule or areunable to attend other programs. These worksheets are free of charge and can be obtained from park rangers at the information center. Pre-visit activity sheets are available for classroom use.   Click here.


Park in a Pack: This traveling educational kit is curriculum-based and is available to educators , for 2 week periodsBS00932_2.WMF (4120 bytes)"on loan"  for use in the classroom.  "Park in a Pack" is free of charge except for return postage.  A security deposit is required to obtain the kit.   "Park in a Pack" is recommended for grades 4 through 8.  It contains a teaching guide, 4 videos, and many educational activites about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for your students to enjoy.  To further information or reservations on "Park in a Pack" please contact the Education Specialist at (212) 363-3200.  

Web-based Resources for Kids: This interactive website teaches children about their government, community, and historical facts about America. A must for any educator teaching this important subject matter. Appropriate for grades K-12. Click here for U.S. Government for Kids web-page.

Statue of Liberty Teacher's Guide: this grade 3-6 curriculum-based guide is available to educators by calling (212) 363-3200. (Limit 1 per request).

These programs will compliment your school group visit to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The National Park Service is committed to preserving and protecting America's National Park treasures for future generations to enjoy. Help us bring that experience to our most treasured resource - our children!


Museum Exhibits

Statue of Liberty Exhibit: The Statue of Liberty is more than a monument. She is a beloved friend, a living symbol of freedom to millions around the world. This exhibit is her biography. It is a tribute to the people who created her, to those who built and paid for her, to the ideals she represents, and to the hopes she inspires.

The Statue of Liberty exhibit, located on the second floor in the pedestal of the Statue, traces the history and symbolism of the Statue of Liberty through museum objects, photographs, prints, videos and oral histories. The exhibit opened in July 1986. In addition to historical artifacts and descriptive text, full scale replicas of the Statue's face and foot are also on display. The main historical sections include: From Idea to Image, Fabricating the Statue, Stretching Technology, Fundraising in France, The Pedestal, Fundraising in America, and Complete at Last. The next area focuses on the symbolism of Liberty with sections titled Mother of Exiles, Becoming the Statue of America, Century of Souvenirs, The Image Exploited and The Statue in Popular Culture.

The Torch Exhibit: The Torch Exhibit includes the original 1886 torch and much altered flame in the lobby. On the second floor balcony overlooking this torch is a display on the history of the torch and flame, explaining the various alterations through diagrams, photographs, drawings and cartoons.

The "New Colossus": Famous sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. A bronze plaque, dedicated in memory of Emma Lazarus' contribution to the completion of the Statue's pedestal, has been affixed to the inner walls of the pedestal since the early 1900's. This plaque, currently located in the Statue of Liberty exhibit, has come to symbolize the statue's universal message of hope and freedom for immigrants coming to America and people seeking freedom around the world.

Click here to read the "New Colossus". View "New Colossus" bronze museum plaque.

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 Last Revised: June 28, 2006.