Dressed in a robe and sandals, Lady Liberty braved strong winds, crashing waves, and heavy rain from Superstorm Sandy last October. The world-famous statue survived the storm—but its home on Liberty Island did not fare as well. The island had been closed since the storm. But on July 4, the Statue of Liberty finally reopened to visitors.
Sandy made landfall one day after the statue's 126th birthday. The storm flooded most of the 12-acre island in New York Harbor. Floodwaters damaged the visitor center, walkways, and electrical systems. In some areas, water surged as high as 8 feet. The storm caused more than $59 million worth of damages to the island. But the Statue of Liberty itself was unharmed, since it stands on a high pedestal.
Over the past eight months, the National Park Service (NPS) has worked to clean up and repair the damages. More than 1,000 employees from all over the country helped with the repairs. Through their efforts, Lady Liberty was made ready for visitors again. While some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, visitors arrived by ferry boats to tour the national landmark on Independence Day.
“It’s a perfect day to reopen the statue,” NPS spokesman John Warren told TFK. “It’s a great day to celebrate liberty throughout the country and the world.”
French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed the Statue of Liberty. He called it Liberty Enlightening the World. The statue was a gift of friendship from France to the U.S. It arrived in New York Harbor in 1885. Even with help from other workers, it took Bartholdi nine years to build the 225-ton monument, which stands about 305 feet tall. In the statue’s left hand, Lady Liberty holds a tablet with the date July 4, 1776—the day America declared its independence from Britain.
“The Statue of Liberty has inspired people all over the world because it stands for freedom,” Warren says. “It’s a beacon to the world.”
From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered the U.S. through nearby Ellis Island. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum holds the history of immigrants who passed through the island as they sought a new life in the U.S. During the superstorm, all historical items were kept safe. Ellis Island and the museum are not expected to reopen to the public this year.