People around the world are familiar with what the outside of the Statue of Liberty looks like with her light green color, crown, tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence, and torch. The inside, however, is lesser known. A new video from animator Jared Owen gives a look at what holds Lady Liberty upright for all who enter the New York Harbor.
Turns out that just like the human body, Lady Liberty needs a skeleton. The statue was constructed using a method called repoussé. To make it, the outside pieces of copper — about the thickness of two pennies — were hammered into shape using a wooden mold. Then, iron straps were put on the inside for support. This was done piece by piece, but that alone couldn’t hold up the 151-feet-tall statue. A support structure made by Gustave Eiffel (yes, the one responsible for the Eiffel Tower built a few years later) uses a central iron pylon with smaller support beams. This allows it to sway up to 4.7 inches without being damaged or toppling over, thus enabling the statue to hold for the long run.
The final statue with the internal supports was broken into more than 350 pieces to be moved from France to the US — and it took four months to be reassembled on what was then known as Bedloe’s Island (now it’s Liberty Island). The careful construction worked, though the torch had to be replaced in 1986 because of water damage. Today, the copper flame is covered with 24-karat gold, while the original is on view in the monument lobby on Liberty Island.
It’s possible to see parts of the Statue of Liberty’s skeleton for yourself. The crown of the statue is open by reservation only, and on the way up you can see the internal supports. What you can’t see is the full inside. The torch was open in the past, but tours stopped after the “Black Tom” explosion on July 30, 1916. National Park Service staff are the only ones who can see it today, and get there via a 40-foot ladder. For a look at the rest of the interior, you’ll have to rely on animations.