The Statue of Liberty is one of the United States of America’s most recognizable landmarks. Over its nearly 150-year history, the monument has served as a beacon of hope to immigrants, a lighthouse to ships, an indelible part of the New York City skyline and a destination for millions of tourists. One of the Statue of Liberty’s most famous attributes is the torch she holds aloft in her right hand, embodying the statue’s true title: Liberty Enlightening the World.
The torch of the Statue of Liberty is probably the most important feature of the famous monument. The torch defines the meaning of the statue’s original title and purpose, Liberty Enlightening the World, and shines for the world to see.
The torch of the Statue of Liberty is attached to the statue’s right hand. The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island, formerly Bedloe Island, in New York Harbor.
Given to the United States of America as a gift from France in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Statue of Liberty was to symbolize the concept of liberty that defined the existence the United States of America. It was decided that the statue, designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, would be built on Bedloe Island in New York Harbor. Constructed in pieces in France, the Statue of Liberty was transported to the United States in 1885, then re-assembled.
Besides being an international symbol of liberty, the Statue of Liberty was originally used as a lighthouse because of the statue’s torch. Due to this, the Statue of Liberty was managed by the U.S. Lighthouse Board before it eventually came under the control of the National Park Service.
The torch remains illuminated today, but the method by which it is lit and its function as a lighthouse have changed over time. The original torch was made out of copper, and in 1916, to improve the statue’s function as a lighthouse, yellow glass windows were added to the torch. Several more lighting improvements were made to the torch until 1984, when work began to remove and replace the original torch in order to return the torch to both its original appearance. Erected in 1986, the new torch is made of copper, like the original, and covered in 24 karat gold, which reflects the sun during the day and electric lights at night.
The torch of the Statue of Liberty is not open to visitors, unlike the statue’s base and crown. Originally open, the torch was closed in 1916 after the “Black Tom Explosion” incident on nearby Black Tom Island, which damaged the statue’s torch.