Celebrating the Immigrant: An Administrative History
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Josephine Nugent, a high school senior from Bridgeport, Connecticut, one day in April 1983, in the company of her classmates, made her first visit to the Statue of Liberty. She had come to the United States from South Vietnam seven years previously. When a reporter asked what she thought of the monument, she replied, "It's one of the most beautiful symbols of the United States. It symbolizes freedom, liberty and everything the United States stands for." In those two sentences this recent-American schoolgirl, part of the newest immigrant influx to our shores, both summed up and symbolized the ideas that have been accumulating around the famous landmark for nearly one hundred years. [1]

When Edouard de Laboulaye and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi first thought of having the people of France present to the people of the United States a monument on the one hundredth anniversary of America's independence, their main idea was to commemorate the friendship between the two peoples. They wanted it to recall the aid which Americans had received from France in the colonies' struggle for freedom. They wished the statue to proclaim further that the ideal of liberty, shared by the sister republics, was a meaningful one for the rest of mankind as well.

Bartholdi attempted to make this evident in the name he gave his statue, "Liberty Enlightening the World," and in its design. The statue's upraised arm held high the symbolic torch of freedom; at her feet lay the broken chain of tyranny. On her left arm rested a tablet inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence, reminding everyone of its bold proclamation about the "inalienable rights" of all men to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." [2]

To Emma Lazarus, a poet who was asked to contribute some inspirational lines for the pedestal fund drive, the statue took on a still wider significance. Shortly before composing her sonnet, "The New Colossus," Lazarus had been touched by the sight of Jewish refugees from Czarist Russia arriving in the United States. When she sat down to write, she saw the statue not only as a commanding figure enlightening the world with its torch of liberty, but as the "Mother of Exiles," the woman who welcomed the oppressed to our shores and offered them freedom, dignity, and opportunity:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door! [3]

Emma Lazarus implied in those lines that not only would the immigrants seeking refuge benefit from the asylum offered, but that the United States would also be enriched by receiving the world's "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." That was a concept apparently shared by Bartholdi, the statue's sculptor. In an 1890 interview he granted to the Paris correspondent of the New York World, Bartholdi lamented that Americans neither appreciated the uniqueness of their people nor his statue's potential for symbolizing it. He stated, "In Liberty Island. . . [he insisted on calling it that at a time when everyone else still referred to it as Bedloe's Island] the Americans have a spot unique in the world for the home of a temple to the glorification of their wonderful nationality and the idealization of the strong poetry of their race . . . in the cohesion into one mighty mass of elements so widely diverse." [4]

Bartholdi was correct in observing that most Americans initially failed to associate the statue with immigration and an appreciation of our multi-ethnic heritage. That would take time. Emma Lazarus' poem was hardly known in the 1880s. When a bronze tablet inscribed with "The New Colossus" was placed inside the statue's entrance in 1903, the ceremony received little attention. Not until the the 1930s and 40s, when ironically the United States almost sealed the "golden door," did Lazarus' sonnet become widely admired and quoted. From that point on, however, the significance of the statue that the poet and its sculptor had seen began to grow in importance. [5]

By 1952 even a congressman who had sponsored several restrictionist immigration bills appreciated the Mother of Exiles theme symbolized by the statue. Representative Francis Walter (Democrat-Pennsylvania), in May of that year, introduced a resolution in the House authorizing and directing the President of the United States to proclaim each October 28 as Statue of Liberty Day because the monument was dedicated on that day and because it has since become "a welcoming beacon to the oppressed and persecuted of all lands and faiths" as well as "a symbol of American liberty and freedom." [6]

Congress, in 1956, took further steps to emphasize the statue's association with the ideals of liberty and opportunity and with the immigrants attracted to our shores by their promise. The legislators, in a joint resolution, gave their approval to the plans of a group of private citizens to finance and help the Park Service develop a museum of immigration at the base of the statue, and they authorized changing the name of the home of the monument from Bedloe's to Liberty Island. The joint resolution stated, ". . .the Statue of Liberty is to the world the symbol of the dreams and aspirations which have drawn so many millions of immigrants to America" and "the majestic meaning of the Statue of Liberty is to be made more brilliant by the establishment at its foot of the American Museum of Immigration." [7]

This "majestic meaning" of the statue was so widely recognized that President Lyndon B. Johnson chose Liberty Island as the setting for his signing of the 1965 immigration bill, finally abolishing the discriminatory national origins quota system. He could have signed the measure quietly at the White House, but he saw the drama and appropriateness of a ceremony using the statue as back drop. On the fine Sunday afternoon of October 3, accompanied by Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President and Mrs. Hubert H. Humphrey, the Governors of New Jersey and New York, assorted other political leaders, some two hundred reporters, and thousands of curious tourists, Johnson arrived on Liberty Island. Speaking beneath the famed landmark, he said:

This bill . . . repairs a deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation. . . . [F]or over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system. Under that system the ability of new immigrants to come to America depended on the country of their birth. Today, with my signature, this system is abolished. Now under the monument which has welcomed so many, the American nation returns to the finest of its traditions.... [T]he lamp of this grand old lady is brighter today--and the golden door she guards gleams more brilliantly.....[8]

Pres. Johnson, V.P. Humphrey
President Lyndon B. Johnson, accompanied by Lady Bird Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Mrs. Humphrey, visited Liberty Island to sign the 1965 Immigration Bill, October 3, 1965.
(Source: Photograph Collection of the American Museum of Immigration, Liberty Island, U.S. Department of the Interior, NPS)

Many others besides President Johnson have seen the Statue of Liberty as the fitting place to hold patriotic ceremonies and/or promote the ideals for which she stands. The persons and organizations involved have been quite varied and, of course, have interpreted the meaning of liberty and freedom differently. On the one hand, the rather conservative Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars stages an annual Statue of Liberty Anniversary Exercise on October 28, complete with speeches on the meaning of the monument and of America. The more liberal Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs, on the other hand, every July also celebrates America's ideals before the famous lady. [9] In April 1961, the office of the Secretary of the Interior granted permission to the New York City Young Socialist League to place ten pickets around the monument to protest American intervention in Cuba, which they saw as a contradiction to our proclaimed love of liberty. Several hundred New Yorkers, including Mayor Abraham Beame and Governor Hugh Carey, gathered before the statue on March 3, 1975, also with the permission of the Department of the Interior, to protest the denial of liberty by the Soviet Union to its Jews. [10]

The desire of assorted citizens to identify their cause or interpretation of freedom with the statue in New York's harbor even led one member of the "hippie" generation to make the following offer in 1968:

. . . I have designed and created a giant, colorful string of beads customized for the Statue of Liberty. They are lightweight, waterproof and made to go around her neck and extend to her waist.

I would like very much to donate them to her to wear so that she might reflect the fashion of the forward-looking people who are changing the attitudes in America today.

A spokesman for the National Park Service, presumably managing to keep a straight face, wrote in reply, "Thank you for your kind offer. . . .We are sorry we must decline. . . . It is felt that the Statue of Liberty needs no further decorations . . . . [11]

If the symbolism of the statue has made her a rallying point for people wanting to express themselves dramatically on some aspect of liberty, she has also become, since the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s and the anti-war protests of the 1960s and 70s, a favorite target for take-over, occupation or even destruction by groups protesting what they perceive as denials of what she represents.

In the summer of 1964 a young black library clerk from New York named Robert Steele Collier visited Fidel Castro's Cuba. Inspired by the racial equality he saw there, he returned to the city to organize the Black Liberation Front. Early in 1965 he and three other members of the group decided to make a forceful statement about discrimination against blacks in the United States by blowing up the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the Washington Monument. After scouting the statue, the conspirators concluded that it would be easy to break the locked door that led into the forty-two-foot-long torch-bearing arm. There they would plant sticks of dynamite and in one blast, as they put it, render the "damned old bitch" headless and torchless. They contacted a woman who was a member of a Quebec separatist society. She agreed to bring the necessary explosives from Montreal to New York. What the plotters did not know was that one of them was a New York City police undercover agent, assigned to infiltrate the militant front. This agent kept the local police, FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police alerted to the plans, and on February 16, 1965, FBI agents and New York City police arrested the would-be bombers and confiscated their dynamite. In June they were found guilty, the men sentenced to prison terms of ten years, the Canadian woman to a term of five. These sentences were later reduced to five years for the men and a suspended sentence and deportation for the woman. [12]

Tim MacCormick of New Jersey and fourteen other members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, on the afternoon of December 26, 1971, arrived on Liberty Island by the Circle Line boat along with other tourists. But, when the last return ship to Manhattan sailed that evening, the veterans were not aboard. Instead, just before closing time, they hid among the exhibit partitions, building materials, and storage closets which were lying about the monument's base while work was being finished on the American Museum of Immigration. When NPS personnel made their 7:30 evening check-up of the statue, they found that the veterans had seized control of the landmark and barricaded the three ground floor entrances. The men inside refused to speak to or admit any Park Service people, but on the door they posted a typewritten statement addressed to President Richard M. Nixon:

Each Vietnam veteran who has barricaded himself within this international symbol of liberty has for many years rationalized his attitude to war. . . .We can no longer tolerate the war in Southeast Asia. . . .Mr. Nixon, you set the date [for leaving Vietnam], we'll evacuate. [13]

On December 27, twenty-one National Park police flew to Liberty Island from Washington where they were joined by New York City police and Coast Guardsmen. These security forces stood by while the government attempted to reach a peaceful compromise with the occupiers. They were told that they would be permitted to picket and protest on the island if they would simply vacate the statue, allowing it to reopen to visitors. The veterans rejected the offer, flew the United States flag upside down from the statue's crown, and waited. Law enforcement officers also waited. During that day thousands of disappointed tourists were told at the Battery that they could not go out to the statue. Congresswoman Bella Abzug (Democrat-New York) sent a telephone message of support to the demonstrators.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War leaving the Statue of Liberty, which they had occupied for two days. The demonstrators emerged in response to a court order, December 28, 1971.
(Source: Photograph Collection of the American Museum of Immigration, Liberty Island, U.S. Department of the Interior, NPS)

Meanwhile, United States Attorney Whitney North Seymour, Jr., went before District Court Judge Lawrence Pierce to request an injunction directing the veterans to open the doors, leave the statue except during regular visiting hours, and permit Park Service personnel and tourists to enter. On the morning of December 28 Judge Pierce issued a temporary restraining order, instructing the protestors to leave the statue "forthwith." Two hours later, after conferring with their lawyers, the veterans removed the barricades from the entrances and emerged with "clenched fists raised." They had cleaned up their debris and caused no significant damage to the property. The monument was reopened to the public, with the first ferry-load of visitors arriving at 2:15 that afternoon.

Tim MacCormick issued a statement to the press explaining why they had picked this particular target:

The reason we chose the Statue of Liberty is that since we were children, the statue has been analogous in our minds with freedom and an America we love.

Then we went to fight a war in the name of freedom. We saw that freedom is a selective expression allowed only to those who are white and maintain the status quo.

Until this symbol again takes on the meaning it was intended to have, we must continue our demonstrations. . . . [14]

In April 1974, twenty members of a radical student organization, the Attica Brigade, copied the example of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Barricading themselves inside the statue, they protested social injustice in the United States and called for the ouster of President Nixon. They finally left the monument when a force of twenty National Park Police walked toward the barred doors with the intention of breaking in. No one was injured, nor was there any property damage. At a later news conference a spokesman for the protestors proclaimed that the statue is "a facade put up to make people believe that the ideals of democracy actually exist." [15]

Two years after the Attica Brigade sit-in, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War were back. On June 6, 1976, they occupied the statue, and on the following day, when they refused to comply with a court order to leave, NPS police arrested and removed them. Again, the statue escaped with minimal damage. [16]

On February 15, 1977, dissident Iranians staged the first of several take-overs of the statue. [17] Protesting the lack of freedom in their country under the Shah, they held the lady in the harbor for five hours. When an injunction was issued, the Iranians left voluntarily. The government filed no charges against the demonstrators, who agreed to pay $310 for minor damage they had caused to the monument. [18]

In October of the same year, it was the turn of Puerto Rican nationalists. Twenty-nine members of the New York Committee to Free the Puerto Rican Nationalist Prisoners seized control of the statue and draped a Puerto Rican flag from its crown. The protestors demanded independence for their Caribbean island, an end to discrimination against Puerto Ricans in the United States, and freedom for all of their compatriots in prison. The demonstrators ignored a court injunction to vacate and after eight and one-half hours, the National Park Police forced their way into the statue to arrest them. No one was injured in the confrontation, but about $4,000 worth of property damage occurred. The protestors subsequently paid fines of $100 each for their parts in the takeover. [19]

Every year, along with and in addition to the seizures of the site, Park Service personnel on Liberty Island have received a number of bomb threats to the statue. There were, for instance, four such warnings in 1976 and nine in 1977. While these scares have almost always proved to be idle threats, the NPS has felt it could not ignore them. On receipt of a bomb threat park employees would immediately evacuate all visitors and personnel from the monument and gently but firmly "herd" them to the boat docking area. The superintendent or other park employees would notify the FBI and harbor police as well as city authorities, although the New York City police department bomb squad would not go out to Liberty Island unless a suspicious object was spotted. [20]

On one occasion bombers struck without warning. At 7:30 on the evening of June 3, 1980, a time-delay device blew up in the Statue of Liberty Story Room, within the base of the monument, destroying a large share of its exhibits and a portion of the ceiling. Fortunately, no one was hurt since the explosives went off after closing time, but some $18,000 worth of damage was sustained. FBI investigators believed the perpetrators were Croatian terrorists seeking independence for Croatia from Yugoslavia, though no arrests were made.

The NPS responded to the bombing with increased security measures. For the remainder of that summer two additional Park police officers and two bomb-sniffing dogs, as well as a mechanical bomb detector, were stationed at Liberty Island. The public-address and the intrusion systems were also upgraded. In the following year the owners of two New Jersey dog kennels donated to the STLI National Monument a golden retriever specially trained to detect explosives. Since its acquisition, this dog has accompanied park rangers on their periodic searches. [21]

As of 1982 the area of the statue that was bombed still awaited rehabilitation. Personnel from the park and the NPS's Harpers Ferry Center (where museum exhibits are designed and created) wrestled with the tough problems of how to arrange displays in such a way as not to interfere with the large crowds that congregate in that space to await the elevator that carries them to the top of the pedestal, and how to avoid creating small openings, crevices and crannies in which some future terrorist could conceal explosive devices. [22]

The overwhelming majority of those who arrived on Liberty Island, of course, had no wish to harm or seize the statue, nor to demonstrate on behalf of any cause or movement. Most visitors came to the famous landmark because of the beauty and awesome size of the statue, the impressive symbolism surrounding it, the challenge of climbing its narrow stairways, the fine views that the island and statue afford of the Manhattan skyline and the surrounding harbor, and the pleasant ferry trip out and back. In fact, a visit to the statue has come to be regarded as one of the must-see tourist sights in New York, along with the Empire State Building and the United Nations. A trend toward steadily increasing visitation has proceeded ever since the monument came under the jurisdiction of the NPS. From the 1920s through the 1950s, the numbers making the trip to see the lady in the harbor yearly rose from approximately 300,000 to over 750,000. By the mid-1960s, annual visits exceeded 1 million, and by the early 1980s, surpassed 1.5 million. [23]

As the statue has become ever more popular with tourists, so it has also attracted much attention from the media: periodicals, radio, film, and television. Producers often want to use the statue as an incidental setting. They have requested and usually received permission to bring camera crews and equipment to the island for shooting on location. In April 1963, for instance, New York/New Jersey public television station WNET/Channel 13 had video crews present, working on one of their educational programs; while in June 1967, a commercial station filmed background scenes for a then-popular TV comedy series called "That Girl," starring Marlo Thomas. On September 29, 1975, Wolper Productions filmed scenes for a movie, with Shirley MacLaine, on the promenade leading to the statue. Alistair Cooke's British Broadcasting Corporation production, "America," ends with a shot of Cooke on the statue's torch balcony, this being one of the few times a filmmaker was ever allowed into the torch, which can only be reached by narrow, hazardous stairs.

In September 1973, Paramount Pictures requested the right to film scenes on Ellis Island for the motion picture "Godfather II." After permission was granted, the producers also asked the NPS to close off a portion of Liberty Island to visitors for a short period. The cameramen wanted to shoot footage of the statue as seen from Ellis Island, without having people in 1970s dress intruding on what in the film was a scene purportedly occurring in the early 20th century. Despite some initial reluctance, the NPS agreed to accommodate the filmmakers. Another problem, however, became apparent: the new terrace beneath the Statue of Liberty, created by the American Museum of Immigration, would also have to be blocked out since it did not exist at the time depicted in the movie. Ultimately, Paramount Pictures decided the obstacles presented by the run-down condition of Ellis Island and the changes at Liberty Island were too great to handle, and no actual on-site shots were included in the film. [24]

Other representatives of the media have wished to make the statue itself the focus of attention. In October 1956, WCBS-TV televised the Bill Leonard show, "Eye on New York," live from the statue in connection with the 70th anniversary ceremony for the monument. When, in August 1958, the City of New York was preparing a public relations movie for distribution throughout the United States and abroad, it sent camera crews to the island, where they filmed the scenes that opened and closed the short. During April and May 1965, staff writers and photographers from the National Geographic were on Liberty Island gathering material for an article about the lady in the harbor, being written by former director of the NPS Conrad Wirth, which was to appear in the October 1965 issue of the magazine. Also, in April 1965, NPS personnel at the statue assisted the Educational Broadcasting Corporation in preparing a program about the famous landmark that was to be part of a series entitled "America's Historic Shrines." [25]

Faced with this considerable media interest in the statue and in other NPS-administered properties, the Park Service developed policies regarding filming and recording. The NPS was aware of its responsibility as a government agency with respect to the exercise of freedom of speech and press through film, radio, and television, as well as through the printed and spoken word. It took the position, therefore, that "amateur photographers and bona fide newsreel and news television photographers and sound men" were not required to obtain a filming permit or other permission to carry on their activities at any national park, monument or historic site. Commercial motion picture projects, involving the on-location use of casts, crews and equipment, however, were to be handled differently. The production company wishing to use the NPS facility had to apply to the superintendent of the area for a permit and obtain the approval of both the park and the regional directors. The content of the film was irrelevant to the granting of a permit; the only grounds for denial were potential damage to the natural or cultural resources at the site, unreasonable curtailment of or interference with the right of the public to enjoy the area during filming activities, or undue burden upon the supervising staff in the affected region. The superintendent might also require the motion picture or television company to post a bond "in an amount equal to the estimated cost to the Government of clean-up or restoration operations that would occur in the event the permittee failed to perform." [26]

Rapidly increasing visitation to the Statue of Liberty and to other national parks, monuments and historic sites, as well as heightened media interest, produced more than just a policy on filming. The 1950s through 1970s saw changes in NPS administrative organization, many new areas added to the national park system, augmented interpretative and security activities, and the undertaking of a major program of building, improvement and rehabilitation of facilities, much of it coming under what the NPS called "MISSION 66."

As new historic sites and monuments were acquired in the New York City area, the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument was put in charge of these as well as the lady in the harbor. By 1952, for example, Newell Foster, then superintendent, also administered Federal Hall and Castle Clinton. His responsibilities had grown by 1964 to encompass seven sites: Statue of Liberty, Federal Hall, Castle Clinton, the General Grant and Hamilton Grange National Memorials, and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace and Sagamore Hill National Historic Sites. In January of that year the Park Service formally recognized these seven properties as an administrative unit known as the New York City Group. When Foster retired in August 1964, the service named John A. Townsley as superintendent of the NYC Group, and he in turn appointed management assistants to administer and report on the statue and the other component parts of the group. Lester McClanahan became management assistant for the Statue of Liberty.

Through the 1960s the number of sites comprising the group continued to grow. Ellis Island became a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and of the NYC Group in 1965. In 1967, the Fire Island National Seashore was added and the name of the group changed to the Fire Island National Seashore and New York City NPS Group. At the beginning of 1967, Henry G. Schmidt replaced Townsley as superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore and NYC NPS Group. Three assistant superintendents served under him: one for Fire Island, one for the Manhattan sites, and one for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Thus, Lester McClanahan's title changed from management assistant to assistant superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

By the early 1970s, however, this expanding administrative body was proving too big and cumbersome, which led to its split. Fire Island became a separate administrative entity, with the reduced New York City Group assuming the name for a time of New York District Office. Reverting to the name New York City Group, the unit, under Superintendent William Hendrickson, in 1974-75, once again reshuffled positions internally. There were now three unit managers responsible for and reporting to the group superintendent: one for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, one for the Manhattan sites, and one for Sagamore Hill (Fig. 2]).

With the stepped-up activity involved in opening Ellis Island to the public, the nation's bicentennial celebration, and the operation of the American Museum of Immigration, as well as other developments, the New York City Group again appeared to be unwieldy. In August 1976, the group was dissolved; the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island became an independent unit with its own superintendent, who reported without intermediaries to the director of the North Atlantic Regional Office.

While these administrative changes were occurring on the local scene, reshuffling was also taking place within the Park Service nationally. Thus, until the early 1960s the Statue of Liberty and other members of the NYC NPS Group were included in Region V of the NPS and reported to its director. Region V was redesignated the Northeast Regional Office in the early 1960s. In 1974, the North Atlantic Region was established, with the former Northeast Regional area divided between it and the also newly created Mid-Atlantic Region. The Statue of Liberty National Monument was included in the North Atlantic Region. [27]

Regardless of the changing administrative arrangements for the statue, the pressure of steadily mounting visitation necessitated that the Park Service rehabilitate, improve and expand the facilities on Liberty Island. During fiscal years 1947 through 1957, Congress appropriated and approved about $1.3 million for this purpose. NPS used the money to remove the dilapidated East Pier, install walks, and improve the West Pier (Fig. 3). The statue received a new heating system and some interior structural repairs. New utility lines were laid between the mainland and the island, while the concession building (containing a restaurant) and the administrative center were remodeled.

These modest improvements did not always impress the public. One New York businessman, who wanted to see much more done with the landmark, wrote to Senator Jacob Javits (Republican-New York) in 1958, "The Statue of Liberty badly needs a 'face-lifting.' Thousands of people go over there on every good day and all that greets them is a pair of iron stairs, a sleazy-looking island and a very bad restaurant." [28]

Conrad L. Wirth, director of NPS at the time, was also not satisfied that the park system was adequately serving the growing volume of visitors. In 1955, he formulated "MISSION 66," a ten-year conservation program aimed at replacing "outmoded and inadequate facilities with physical improvements adequate for the expected demands." The program was to be completed by 1966, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service. In addition to physical repairs and improvements in the parks, monuments, and historic sites, the project also called for increased staffing in the fields of protection and visitor services. To carry out this plan, Wirth called upon Congress to appropriate some $800 million. [29]

For the Statue of Liberty, the principal MISSION 66 project was construction and development of the American Museum of Immigration in its base (which will be discussed in the following chapters). Besides that undertaking, improvements included enlargement of the West Pier and construction of a shelter for visitors waiting for the boat, paving the existing concrete plaza and walkways with ornamental bluestone, and erecting markers and signs on the perimeter walk surrounding the statue to call attention to the history of Liberty and Ellis Islands and other important sites visible from the path. All but completion of the museum were accomplished by the end of 1966. Thereafter, routine maintenance, such as repairs to the seawall, periodic rehabilitation of the docks and painting of the statue's interior continued. [30]

As the country and NPS prepared to celebrate the nation's 200th anniversary, activity quickened once again at Liberty Island. On May 24, 1976, the park staff opened their major bicentennial exhibition, "The Lady in the Harbor." This consisted of photographs, drawings, paintings, and artifacts on display in the statue's base, relating the story of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and the creation of the colossal monument. By the time the show closed on November 8, some 400,000 persons had viewed it. Beginning at dusk on July 4, the NPS, in cooperation with Macy's Department Store and Walt Disney World, launched a fireworks display from both Liberty and Ellis Islands, which lit up the night sky and silhouetted the statue for millions of onlookers. [31]

As one of its bicentennial projects, STLI National Monument staff proposed to upgrade the system for illuminating the landmark. The statue had first been lighted in 1916. In 1931, a new system was installed, and in 1945, it was upgraded with sixteen mercury-vapor lamps added to the floodlighting system and six vapor lamps placed in the torch. But with the passage of time and the advent of brighter, energy-efficient lamps, the system had become obsolete. Alfred V. Colabella, a consulting engineer for the NPS, became supervisor for the proposed lighting project. He contacted the Syracuse-based Crouse-Hinds Company, an electrical firm, which had provided lighting systems for the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the Washington Monument. The company sent experts to present specifications and sample floodlighting equipment to test various illuminating concepts. NPS requests for money for other bicentennial projects, unfortunately, led the Washington office to cut the lighting plan out of the budget. When the Crouse-Hinds Company learned of this, the firm offered to donate the new lamps as a gift. The details were spelled out in a memorandum of understanding between the Department of the Interior and the company, drawn up in May 1976 by Denis P. Galvin, acting director of the North Atlantic Region.

On July 3, 1976, the new lamps were switched on for the first time. They threw four times as much light on the statue as the earlier system, while using 33 percent less energy. Inside the torch, high-pressure sodium lamps, rich in yellow, simulated a flame. Within the crown, mercury lamps provided a blue-green effect. Metal halide lamps bathed the remainder of the statue in white light, while lamps on the pedestal contained a blend of yellow sodium and white halide to reveal the warm color of the granite masonry. In the late 1970s, however, to further conserve energy, there was a cutback in this illumination. [32]

Di Castro and Colabella
Richard Di Castro (left), vice president of Luis Electrical Corporation, a contractor for the Crouse-Hinds Company, and Alfred V. Colabella (right), consultant to the NPS and project supervisor of the relighting of the Statue of Liberty, inspecting new lighting fixtures at the base of the statue, July 1976. The new lighting was a gift of the Crouse-Hinds Co. in honor of the nation's bicentennial.
(Source: Photograph Collection of the American Museum of Immigration, Liberty Island, U.S. Department of the Interior, NPS)

By the late 1970s, then, when the lighting system was fully utilized, the lady in the harbor was beautifully illuminated, the grounds surrounding her were well landscaped, and the promenades leading to her and encircling the island were attractively paved and bore informative markers. But new, more serious problems had developed. One of these was severe congestion within the monument. Park personnel have observed that about 50 percent of the people arriving on Liberty Island wish to climb to the statue's crown. The capacity of the statue for persons climbing to the crown is approximately 300 to 375 per hour, which represents only about 30 percent of the number of visitors to Liberty Island on an average summer day. As a result, individuals often have to wait in line for thirty minutes or more to use the elevator at the base that carries them to the sixth floor. Then, they have to form another line that proceeds slowly from the sixth-floor landing toward the foot of the double stairway that leads to the crown. Each of these stairways is only wide enough for single-file, one-way ascent or descent. The rate of movement up and down is controlled by the slowest climber and by how long the average visitor stays in the observation area in the crown. On many days, the whole procedure may take several hours, while the interior of the statue, packed with people, becomes intolerably warm.

Park personnel worried that another problem might be developing, as well. For almost one hundred years the statue has been exposed to the corrosive salt air of the harbor, rain, snow, freezing cold and summer heat. Had the copper skin, the underlying structure and the connectors between the two been dangerously weakened or damaged? The answer to that question could only be determined by thorough engineering inspection and study. [33]

At the beginning of the 1980s, the NPS was seeking ways to improve access to the crown, and architects and engineers had started technical studies of the monument's condition. These activities and the individuals and organizations involved in them will be discussed in the concluding chapter of this book, "Preparing for the Centennials of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island."

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2001