Revisiting Landmarks: The Statue Of Liberty

This weekend I did something I haven't done since about 1980: Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I have vivid memories of both from my early childhood visits to NYC (more on Ellis Island in future posts), but even though I've lived here for a little over 16 years now, I haven't been back. I, like many New Yorkers, don't want to deal with the crowds, and often think, "Meh, that's for tourists." But after revisiting, I'm reminded how important going to these places--and learning about their history--truly is.

Before revisiting, I brushed up on my history, visiting the official National Park Service site, as well as cracking out my Blue Guide and companion book to Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film, all of which offer important reminders, like that her real name is "Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World," and that she was the brainchild of Édouard René de Laboulaye, who was searching for a way to express his desire for democracy in France, which was, at the time, under Napoleonic rule.

But perhaps most importantly, I was reminded why I shouldn't take this landmark for granted as a work of art. Up close, she is a gigantic, amazingly-constructed sculpture, the beauty of which no photograph or view from across the harbor can truly capture. Both Bartholdi and Eiffel were brilliant master craftsmen.

We didn't go inside (entry tickets were sold out, so I highly recommend buying reserved tickets well in advance), but the view from the park below is striking: The delicate folds in the incredibly thin metal, the way the various sheets of copper age at different rates and drip their green onto the pedestal, the way her crown seems to work as a sundial... Now I know I absolutely need to go back so I can take a peek at her interior.

So, this jaded New Yorker (along with hundreds of other people from all over the world visiting at the same time) stood in awe of something she no longer takes for granted. It's amazing how art never ceases to move the masses.

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