Lady Liberty’s last hurrah
An image from the Statue of Liberty's day of dedication on 28 October, 1886, showing part of the flotilla and the statue emerging from the fog and rain. (National Park Service files)
One day before the Statue of Liberty closes for a year-long, $27.25 million renovation, Lady Liberty will get a last hurrah, with an 28 October celebration marking the 125th anniversary of the statue’s dedication.
At the same time, New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage is commemorating the anniversary with a new exhibition on the poet Emma Lazarus, who composed the statue’s famous plea, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the statue arrived in New York in June 1885, a gift from France to the United States, in recognition of a friendship dating back to the American Revolution. The 28 October event, organized by the National Park Service, is invitation-only, but Macy’s will sponsor a fireworks display at 7:45 pm which will be visible from lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey, as well as from a “torch cam”. Those who want an inside look at the invitation-only proceedings can follow ranger updates on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
On display from 26 October through summer 2012, the Lazarus exhibit will explore the life and work of the prominent American Jewish poet and her role in the Statue of Liberty’s history. Objects on display will include a manuscript notebook with “The New Colossus” – the famous sonnet that was inscribed in 1903 on a plaque inside the base of the statue – and Lady Liberty memorabilia dating from the 1890s to the 1970s.
The museum, which is at the south end of Battery Park City and overlooks the Statue of Liberty, created a free app — downloadable from the exhibit’s website — with a GPS-enabled walking tour of 19 places that shaped the poet’s life and legacy, with narration by actresses Julianna Margulies and Meryl Streep.
Although the statue’s interior will be closed during the renovation, Liberty Island, where the statue is located, will remain open to visitors for an up-close view.