Liberty State Park
Morris Pesin Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07305
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Statue of Liberty

Guide to the Statue

By Benjamin Levine and Isabelle F. Story
National Park Service, 1961

This Web Version

Until further notice, there is no visitor access to the interior of the Statue.

The numbers given in the first part of this guide section correspond to the numbers of the image to the right.

  1. Entrance to the base of the statue is through the high walls of old Fort Wood, through what was originally the fort's principal sally port. Its doors are 4 inches thick.

  2. The walls of the fort, more than 20 feet thick at the base, are pierced by a corridor of brick vault -- work which opens into the passageway lead ing to the stairway and to the elevator within the pedestal foundation. Here are the dedication tablets presented by the Franco-American Union, donor of the statue, and the American Committee which erected the pedestal.

    The balcony, near the top of the stonework, is at a height equal to that of a 10-story building.

    In the corridor beyond the elevator shaft several interpretive wall plaques are mounted, including a bronze tablet on which is inscribed the Emma Lazarus sonnet, The New Colossus. Of the many poems pertaining to the statue, this is the most widely known. It was written in 1883 for the Portfolio of the Art Loan Collection to aid the pedestal fund.

  3. During pleasant weather, many visitors take the stairway, reached by a passageway on the right side of the sally port corridor to the promenade which, more than 50 years ago, was the terreplein, or gun platform, of the old fort.

  4. Now paved, the space between the wall and the terraced lawn surrounding the pedestal provides a pleasant walk and affords an opportunity to study the details of the statue's construction.

  5. From the promenade, stairways lead to the second level within the pedestal. Here a doorway offers an exit to the terraced lawn in front of the statue.

  6. Six stories above is the fourth level, at the foot of the statue. On this floor are several additional plaques, like those in the passageway below, upon which are excerpts from the written works of great Americans.

  7. In the spiral there are 2 stairways, each of 168 steps, winding about the same central column within the towerlike supporting structure of the statue. One is for ascending, the other for descending. There are two rest platforms, situated at one-third and two-thirds of the distance to the top, which will enable you to pause without delaying those behind you. Anyone finding the climb too arduous may cross over to the descending stair.

    The right arm, which holds aloft the torch, has been closed to the public for many years. The ladder in this arm is now used by the maintenance staff in replacing the lighting equipment in the torch.

  8. At the top of the stairway is the observation platform within the head -- 260 feet above sea level and large enough to accommodate 30 people. There are a series of 25 windows which are the jewels of the crown beneath the 7 rays of the diadem. From this level can best be seen the tablet of the law in the left hand of the Goddess of Liberty, bearing the Roman letters of the date July 4, 1776.

    From within the crown, or more conveniently from the balcony surrounding the pedestal, a splendid view is afforded of the changing panorama that is New York. On clear days objects within a radius of 15 miles can be seen. To the north is the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River. The Manhattan skyline, the bridges spanning the East River, Governors Island, and the main channel through which pass the world's largest ships are in the immediate foreground. To the south, you can see the shore of Raritan Bay, N. J., and Staten Island, guarded by Forts Hamilton and Wadsworth. To the southwest is the great steel arch bridge over Kill van Kull, joining Staten Island to the New Jersey mainland. In this area are acres of tanks and refining equipment which identify the region as one of the largest oil-refining centers in the United States.

    Due west of the island are the heavily industrialized areas of New Jersey. The eastern terminals of the Lehigh Valley, Jersey Central, Lackawanna, and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads are located here. Farther west and northwest, the great Pulaski Skyway and the series of bridges over the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers are easily discerned.

    To the north also lies Ellis Island. Through this island's gateway, from 1892 to the final closing of the immigration station a few years ago, came nearly 20 million immigrants, to whom the Statue of Liberty represented the freedom which they sought in the New World.

    Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry Service


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