Every American who’s able to should visit the Statue of Liberty and climb up to the crown -- once. More about that later.
The great lady that dominates New York Harbor has had a run of bad luck lately. After being closed for a year for repairs -- she may be a great lady, but she’s also an old lady -- the statue reopened last Oct. 28, the 126th anniversary of her dedication.
Then Superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29 and the statue closed again, not because of damage to the structure, but because Sandy flooded 75 percent of Liberty Island with a 13-foot storm surge.
The statue was undamaged, thanks to the intricate internal supporting ironwork designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, architect of the Eiffel Tower, which, it should be noted, is also still standing.
Water never touched the statue, but the storm tore out the island’s utilities, power supply, docks and walkways. The National Park Service worked heroically to get the island in shape to reopen for the July Fourth holiday. The public responded in kind by snapping up all the tickets to climb to the crown and all but same-day tickets to climb to the top of the base.
That was a clear signal to people whose hobby is not finding long lines and standing in them to come back another time. As Sandy showed, the statue isn’t going anywhere, and, believe me, you will stand in line.
I have been to the statue four times. Once by myself, because I had some time to kill and had promised myself a martini later as a reward for my plucky patriotism, and once with each of our three children.
The first thing you have to know is that the statue is tall, really tall, about 305 vertical feet. The second thing you have to know is that it’s all stairs. Well, mostly stairs. You’re eased into it by the stairs that climb through the base and the pedestal, wide government-issue stairs of the kind you find in major federal buildings.