Statue of Liberty Takes Flight (with a New Staircase)

Statue_of_liberty blog

An old statue is set for a brand-new update – the Statue of Liberty will close for nine months next year while a new staircase is added to the statue's pedestal. The redesign aims to make Lady Liberty a safer and more convenient tourist destination.

The 125-year-old statue currently offers tourists only one way up: 354 narrow steps spiral up the inside of the statue, extending to the crown. (Most tourists climb the 186 steps to the statue's pedestal; fewer are permitted to the top.) The cramped stairway becomes over-heated in summer. It also presents a safety hazard in case of fire, as hundreds of tourists can escape only via its 15 flights of stairs. Although the statue is well-equipped with sprinklers and electrical equipment to handle an emergency, it does not meet modern building standards. The new staircase would lessen some of the inconvenience and potential dangers of visiting the statue.

No architect or contractor has been chosen yet to oversee the new stairway construction, says a National Parks Service spokesperson.

The Statue of Liberty will remain open until its 125th anniversary in October 2011, and close soon after. Design details are not available yet.

This is not Lady Liberty's only upgrade in recent years. She received a $20-million redesign after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and did not re-open until 2004.

I'm curious about the elements of the new stairway's design. The statue itself is crafted of steel and copper, its stairwells are metal, and the enormous pedestal is made of stone and concrete. Will the new design remain traditional, with a standard metal staircase? Or might the designers-to-be branch out with a slightly more modern concept? If you were to weigh in on the Statue of Liberty's staircase redesign, what would you propose?

–Lillian Civantos