Statue of Liberty to close a year for upgrades

The Statue of Liberty, New York's much-visited symbol of freedom and democracy, is undergoing $26.25 million US in upgrades that will close the interior of the monument in late October for up to a year.
The Statue of Liberty in New York harbor will close for a year at the end of October as it undergoes a $27.25-million US renovation that will make the interior safer and more accessible. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty has weathered the test of time since France gifted the monument symbolizing freedom and democracy to the United States in the 1880s, but it's due for a few nips and tucks starting this fall.

Statue of Liberty's vital statistics

Top of base to torch: 46.05 m

Ground to tip of torch: 92.99 m

Heel to top of head: 33.86m

Length of hand: 5 m

Index finger: 2.44 m

Head-chin to cranium: 5.26 m

Width of head: 3.05 m

Width of eye: .76 m

Length of nose: 1.37 m

Length of right arm: 12.80 m

Width of right arm: 3.66 m

Width of mouth: .91 m

Length, width, thickness of tablet: 7.19 m X 4.14 m X .61 m

Weight of copper: 31 tons

Weight of steel: 125 tons

Torch: a symbol of enlightenment. Current torch is a 1986 replacement of the original, now in the lobby. The new torch is copper, covered in 24-karat gold leaf. Sunlight reflects off the gold during the daytime and floodlights (16) light the torch by reflection at night.

Crown: Twenty-five windows in the crown symbolize gemstones and the heaven's rays shining over the world. 

Rays of crown: The seven rays represent the seven seas and continents of the world.

Chains: Chains and a broken shackle are at the statue's feet and cannot be seen from below. This symbolizes the statue as a goddess free from oppression and servitude.

Tablet: Represents a book of law, reads in Roman numerals "July 4, 1776," the date of American Independence.

Source: U.S. National Park Service

After a day of celebrations Oct. 28 to mark the statue's 125th anniversary, all of the statue's interior spaces will close for $27.25 million US in upgrades  to the 125-year-old pedestal and the 200-year-old fort base from which the monument rises, says the U.S. National Park Service.

Visitors can still, however, visit Liberty Island in the New York harbour because it will remain open during upgrades over the next year. 

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, the full title of Bartholdi's work, was fashioned in the style of Greco-Roman art.

At 50 metres high, it was designated as a U.S. national monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986. 

Attracts 3.5 million visitors annually

The statue has undergone many physical changes, and has been administered by various departments over its history. It's now managed by the National Park Service.

In May 1982, a restoration project began in anticipation of the statue's 100th birthday. At the start of the restoration, the United Nations in 1984 designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site. The newly restored statue opened to the public on July 5, 1986, during Liberty Weekend, a celebration of her centennial.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Wednesday that the upgrades will make the interior safer and more accessible.

Tegan Firth, a spokeswoman for Statue Cruises, which on an average Saturday during the summer ferries about 18,000 people to Liberty Island, said the renovation won't have a significant impact on tourism.

"The entire experience of visiting these national landmarks of the United States remains absolutely the same," she said.

It's not the first time the popular monument, which attracts about 3.5 million visitors annually, has been closed.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it was shut down for security precautions, but the base reopened in 2004 after a $20-million security upgrade. The observation deck at the top of the crown was reopened on July 4, 2009.

With files from The Associated Press