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September 8th, 2008

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06:26 pm - A couple of notes about the Statue of Liberty
about.com's NYC guru has this to say about the Statue of Liberty and why access to the crown has been closed since September 11...
On that fateful day in 2001, she held her head high as she witnessed with her own eyes the horrors that took place just across from her watery home. Symbolism and sentimentality can be infinitely applied to her place in it all, and the National Park Service (the statue's operator) is taking it very seriously. Due to security reasons, the top of the Statue of Liberty will continue to be closed to the public.
The only thing is that Lady Liberty (who's been known to shed a tear for one cause or another from time to time) didn't witness any of that. The statue faces the harbor with its back to the skyline, more or less. Back when the crown was open to the public, you didn't climb up to the top for the view of New York. Nah, you climbed up for the HOLY CRAP I'M IN A GIANT STATUE'S HEAD factor (and when you're eleven years old, my god is that factor incredibly compelling.)

My favorite Statue of Liberty story involves Bill Gaines from MAD Magazine. Bill was a huge Statue of Liberty nut, and probably held the record for most collectible items featuring the statue. One of his lifelong dreams was to climb up into the torch, which has been closed to the public since 1916 (and not due to any terrorist attacks. I don't think.) Well, his wife Annie once pulled a few strings with the Parks Department back when this kinda thing wasn't viewed as a terrorist attack, and Bill got to stay in the statue after closing time (just like in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!) and, once everybody had left, the string-pulled Parks Dept employee unlocked the gate to the arm and let Bill, Annie and Dick DeBartolo climb up the arm to get to the torch.

Problem was, Bill wasn't a very small man (in his memoirs Good Days and MAD, Dick describes Bill as "being a dessert fan") and the passageway in the statue's arm actually narrowed when it got to the wrist, I believe. In climbing up to the torch, Bill found himself actually wedged inside the statue's arm with nowhere to go. Being stuck in the statue's arm was bad enough, but Annie and Dick had gone before Bill and were already out on the torch's little balcony. Being stranded out on the torch was probably worse than being stuck in the arm.

Fortunately, with a bit of moving around, Bill was able to unstick himself and back down the ladder, letting a very relieved Annie and Dick escape as well. They got to enjoy (for varying definitions of the word "enjoy") the torch but unfortunately, like Moses, Bill was never able to visit the Promised Land. (Though for Moses, at least he never got himself wedged in a giant copper arm.)

And that's just a few random things about the Statue of Liberty for you today. You're welcome.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
i love you sometimes.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
I will never forget the climb all the way to the top of the Statue's crown, goaded every step up that tall spiral staircase by my mother's shrill command, "Oh, for Christ's sakes, open your eyes! There's no such thing as 'scared of heights.'"

I don't remember much of being inside the actual statue. But I do remember the sweet, knee-trembling relief of finally being out of the damned thing and on solid ground again.

I think I'm going to go take a Valium and try to repress those memories again.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'd love to see a Smithsonian exhibit or something like that involving a big comfy chair, on a big Persian rug, and we could all come into the museum and sit on the rug Indian-style (can we say that anymore?) while you sit in the big comfy chair and tell us stories like this all day long. You're a national treasure.

[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
I would like to sit in a big comfy chair and tell interesting stores. Can I also have a big cup of coffee too? Everybody else can have coffee or hot chocolate or what have you.
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC)
With marshmallows?
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
I had heard that they closed off the torch because there had been attempted suicides and they finally said "enough! nobody goes up there!"

On a side note when my sister lived in NYC she would play tour guide for friends and family. She saw the Statue of Liberty at least 3 times maybe 4 before she put a blanket moratorium on it. :)
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
Actually, the official story goes that on July 30, 1916, the arm was seriously weakened when a munitions plant directly across the water from the statue exploded. Two million tons of gunpowder and TNT went up, popping bolts and rivets out of the statue and seriously damaging the arm. The Parks Dept closed the torch off then, declaring it too weak to be used by the public, though it turns out from reading this that the cause may have been intentional sabotage... so perhaps terrorism did close the torch off after all!

[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
My guess is that it was a magnificent excuse to close down a logistical nightmare. Getting a steady flow of tourists into the crown was difficult enough; I can't imagine what a clusterfuck the torch must have routinely entailed.
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC)
The torch was never really open to the general public at least. It was mostly open, by request, to visiting VIPs and dignitaries (Welcome to our country, Ambassador! Now please step out onto this tiny platform over 300 feet above the ground!)

Keeping the crown closed since 9/11 isn't so much a matter of "OMG someone will place a bomb up there" as it is the evacuation factor. Access to the crown is by a tight, narrow spiral staircase. You simply couldn't guarantee safe passage down for everybody going up to the top and the people already at the top, especially in an emergency.
Date:September 9th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)

Evacuation Factor

I think the NPS used 9/11 as an excuse just as they did after the Black Tom explosion.

During the 1984-1986 restoration it was found there was NO weakening and very minimal damage caused my the explosion. It was a great excuse to stop the flow of the one-way ladder up her arm. Remember, women wore dresses back then.

After 9/11, the NPS wanted to enforce the laws never applied to this national monument, fire evacuation and fire sprinklers. It's not that the copper will burn but logistics. It's easier and cheaper to keep the crown closed.

The Saint Louis Arch and the Washington Monument have no fire escape routes and they are open. Both of those have very limited movement in and out.

"Access to the crown is by a tight, narrow spiral staircase." They could limit the amount of people entering each day.

"You simply couldn't guarantee safe passage down for everybody going up to the top and the people already at the top, especially in an emergency." There are no guarantees of safe passage for everyone in any structure during an emergency.

With the new security before getting onto Liberty Island and before entering the pedestal, the chance of an internal attack is nearly eliminated.

PS: Bill Gaines didn't have the largest liberty collection he had the most expensive liberty collection!
[User Picture]
Date:September 10th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
I bought a Mad magazine last week while I was in New Mexico. I have to say I'm not sure I can get used to it having actual ads (I kept looking at them trying to figure out the joke), although the full color is nice.
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
Moses never got wedged in an arm, but once he struck a rock too hard and got hosed pretty good.

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