BY PETER FEDYNSKY – The Statue of Liberty joins the digital age as the landmark to freedom celebrates its 125th anniversary.
From the ground to the tip of its torch, the 125-year-old statue reaches 93 meters into the sky. Web cams placed around her crown will now stream live photos over the Internet. Featured views include one straight down, and of New York and its harbor.
Ceremonial cannon shots and fire boats spraying water in New York harbor were part of the festivities marking Lady Liberty’s anniversary. During official remarks, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recalled the words of U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who spoke at the statue’s opening in 1886.
“Liberty has found a home on this island,” he said. ‘We will care for her, we will celebrate her. We the people of the United States will continue to perfect her in both word and deed.”
Salazar also noted that the people of the United States and France, which donated the statue as a token of friendship, have strived together to establish, protect and perfect liberty. French sculptor, Frederic Bartholdi, called his creation “Liberty Enlightening the World.” He said it should produce an emotion not because of its size, but because its size is in keeping with the idea that it interprets.
Among the hundreds of people marking the anniversary was Mariana Chelkova, the deputy mayor for culture in Bartholdi’s home town of Colmar, France. Chelkova, an immigrant from Russia, says Bartholdi’s statue does indeed inspire.
“I was born in Moscow. And for me, when I was a little girl, this statue – I was born during a very dark period in the Soviet Union, and it truly was a symbol of liberty. So I think it’s universal,” said Chelkova.
125 recent immigrants to the United States from 46 countries took the citizenship oath as part of Friday’s Liberty Island commemoration. They join millions of Americans who trace their roots to immigrants who gazed at the Statue of Liberty as their ships steamed into New York. A poem associated with the Statue of Liberty written by Emma Lazarus pays tribute to those immigrants. It was read by Hollywood actress Sigourney Weaver.
The Statue of Liberty will now be closed to visitors for one year to carry out a $27 million improvement project that is to include a fire suppression system and an elevator that will allow handicapped visitors to visit the crown.