With the Statue of Liberty recently being in the news (a protestor was arrested after climbing part of the statue on the Fourth of July), what better time to address one of the oldest and most contentious misconceptions about the iconic monument representing freedom and liberty.
For the longest time - well, since at least 1916 - people have claimed to have climbed the few hundred stairs up to the famous torch held in Lady Liberty's extended right hand. This is simply not true, despite dozens of people claiming that they've climbed to the top of the torch on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even TripAdvisor, for some reason.
Just take a look below:
If you were alive and visited the State of Liberty between 1886 (the monument's dedication) and 1916, then you could have very well visited the torch. However, that would make you at least 102 years old if you visited as a child and that doesn't seem all too likely (please correct me if I am wrong).
But why are visitors disallowed from climbing up to the torch? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of guests have visited the statue's crown over the past 130+ years, but not the torch. What gives?
Well, in 1916, during the middle of the World War I, a group of German saboteurs blew up a munitions depot on a pier connected to Black Tom Island in New Jersey, killing several people and injuring hundreds more. The blast was so strong that it caused debris to go flying across parts of New Jersey and New York City, including Liberty Island, where Lady Liberty's arm and torch were injured by the flying debris.
Ever since then, the torch and the rest of the right arm have been closed off to the public, despite what some people might think.
The only time non-National Park Service personnel have been allowed to enter the torch was in 1984 when the original torch was replaced as part of a major renovation project for the entire statue. Ever since then, only the park staff visit the torch, and even then they have to climb a narrow 40-foot ladder to maintain and replace the floodlights that light the torch.
The National Park Service does allow the general public to see the view from atop the torch, but it's via one of the several webcams affixed to the structure.
That's about as close as you can get, even if Sharon on TripAdvisor says otherwise.
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