May 14, 2009

Crown Jewels & A Broken Arm

When I was a kid, one of my fondest memories of visiting New york was going to the Statue of Liberty, walking up the inside of her metal skirt on a circular staircase for 12 stories and looking out through the windows in her crown on the harbor. Amazing!

Now, after nearly 8 years of being closed for security and safety reasons, the crown is reopening, as
the TIMES reported. Starting July 4th, small groups will be able to to go up the staircase to the top and see that same magical view of the harbor.

However, access to Lady Liberty's arm and torch will remain closed, as it has been for 90 years. I remember as a kid wanting desperately to go up to the arm. But passage has been restricted to maintenance workers only because the arm is structurally unsound for larger groups. Strangely enough, the reason for its unsoundness was a terrorist attack.

Back in 1916, during WWI, German saboteurs set off a massive explosion on a munitions loading dock near Ellis Island. The
Black Tom Explosion (named after the island where the docks were located) was the most serious act of espionage on US soil during the war. And the explosion was massive, the equivalent of an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter Scale. It was even felt as far away as Philadelphia! Windows broke as far as 25 miles away, including thousands in lower Manhattan. And the statue's arm, after being showered with debris, was damaged so badly it was permanently closed.

This website has a great narrative of the whole incident if you want to read more about it....a fascinating bit local history.