Statue of Liberty Crown

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Just a follow up on a thread last June where a member mentioned that he had visited the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I have lived in NY my entire life and have visited the Statue many times in the past, but had never made the climb to the crown. Access to the crown was discontinued in the aftermath of 911, but was reinstated late last year.

Reading the OP'ers thread about his visit piqued my interest and on the very day I read his post (June 2), I made reservations for a visit of my own. Today was the day.

It was a terrific experience. Just some quick facts. Crown access is quite restricted. The US Park Service grants only 250 such passes a day and the first date available if you booked today was in 2011, so some advanced planning and reservations are a must. Be advised that the security is strict (airport like) just to get on the boat to the Island (you remove your coats, belts, watches, etc and run them through the xray machines and walk through the metal detectors). Once on the island, if you wish to enter the Statue itself (crown or otherwise), you have to leave pretty much everything in lockers at the base. You are permitted to bring nothing with you into the statue other than one camera per couple and any medications you might need. Everything else must be left in the lockers.

To access the crown, you need to be in reasonably good shape. It is 354 steps by foot up. The first 150 or so are via wide, relatively easy to climb steps. That gets you to the top of the pedestal. Then, if you have the special Crown access tickets and the requisite green wrist band, you are ushered to the crown staircase. This is a very steep, very narrow, very low ceilinged circular staircase with steps that are 6" wide at the widest part (away from the center column) and a mere 2" inches or so next to the column. Climbing this staircase (unless you are young and/or a marathoner-mountain goat) requires deliberate steps pretty much looking down at your feet all the way up. At my age, my hands seldom left the railings.

There are cutouts every so often where you may step out of the column to catch your breath (or regain your courage) and no one rushes you up. Slow and steady worked for my wife and me. If you are carrying a camera (duh!), you will most assuredly want some sort of a strap (the R Strap was perfect as I watched the guy in front of me toting a D3X and 24-70 on a regular shoulder strap and he must have banged the rig into the rails and column every other step) since you will want to use your hands to either guide yourself or help haul your buns up the steps or a little of both. Don't even think about trying to go in with a shoulder bag, backpack or vest. The Rangers will allow you a body and a lens. A lens in the 24-70 range would be the ideal choice; I chose my D700 without the grip and a 28-105 since I was weight conscious and had no illusions of dragging my D3/24-70 up there. (the guy in front of me was at least 30 yrs younger than I). 2.8 glass is not needed once in the crown.

The actual crown room is very small - they limit access to about 8 people at once. The ceiling is very low with all sorts of support struts and trusses running in all directions above your head. (or in my case, being 6"1", along side my head). I managed to bang my head several times trying to maneuver for shots. The windows in the crown are very small (about 16" high and 8" wide) and a few of them (notably the smallest ones to the side) open by tilting out. Shooting through the windows is tough. It is difficult to frame a pleasing shot, but the views are spectacular to say the least. Once up in the crown, the exteme right 2 windows look out onto the arm that holds the torch aloft. You really cannot see up the arm clearly; what I did was to wrap my strap around my hand, set the lens at 28mm and f11, stuck the entire camera out of the window facing up and just ran off a series of shots while moving the camera a tad wth each shot. You shoot totally blind and hope for the best.

I can tell you that this was a terrific experience. Walking up inside of the hollow body of Lady Liberty is quite an experience and you can observe first hand the intricate structure that supports the thin copper skin. Looks like an enclosed Eifel Tower, which should be no surprise since Eifel built both the eponymous tower and the Statue.

A great day for sure. If you go, think about the weather. Obviously you want to visit on a clear day. The temps in the Statue are 10 degrees higher than the outside temp and I would NOT recommend doing the climb in July or August.

Just be aware that it is difficult to take photos of this iconic landmark without having them look like cliche shots. There are only so many vantage points from which to photograph her and will be difficult to find a "new angle". I did get lucky with one of my "out the window" crown shots which I am posting below together with several of my cliche shots just for the record.

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Joined
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West coast of FL (formerly Westchester County, NY)
Chris - couldn't remember who it was. I suppose I should have done a search and given you credit. Was your reaction to the experience in agreement with mine? I was really pumped up.

So glad that I read your original post. Many thanks for the tip.
 
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I got half way up the steps and had to come back down, (Vertigo), I don't have to tell you how popular that made me, now the helicopter flight that was a real treat.
 
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Very nice Rick. Although it is tempting to see the city from that perspective, the memory of my big feet trying to navigate those tiny steps years ago makes me grateful to you for showing us the view and sparing me the climb.
 
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Larry - apropos your comment, the more I think about the day at the Statue, the more I realize that my positive reaction and enthusiasm had less to do with the photography and more to do with just the experience of being inside of that structure and seeing ""how it was made".

In retrospect, the photo ops from the crown really are not that great; too small a space an windows that are too small. I got lucky for that one keeper and, while it is an interesting shot of an unusual perspective, it is not GREAT photography. I think I fell more in love with the "I did it!" nature of the shot than the actual shot itself.

Still a highly recommended thing to do - with or without a camera - assuming that you have neither vertigo nor large feet.
 
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Beautiful! I haven't forgotten my trip to NYC and it's been at least 20 yrs! I saw that beautiful Lady Liberty with my own eyes for the first time. She's still beautiful and you captured her gorgeously! Sadly she was closed and I didn't get to go up as you did. Thanks for bringing back a cherished memory!
 
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Rick this was a great read and GREAT photos!! Thank you very much!! This brought back MANY childhood memories of family trips to Lady Liberty!! I haven't been there since before my teens but reading your post brought back all the memories of the narrowing steps as you climb higher!!
 

Butlerkid

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Rick,

What a treat! The first image is unusual and terrific! Thanks for also posting a detailed accounting of your trip. Wonderful thread!!
 
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Pacific Wonderland
I remember visiting the crown...pre 9-11.
Had the "pleasure" of hauling my Dad's pelican case full of gear up and down those narrow steps in mid August.
It was 130 in the crown!
Was a very memorable experience in many ways.

It was way cool....highly recommended as long as you are in good health ;-)
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2007
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Middle Tennessee
I also made the trip up to the crown in mid to late 1972.

I was in the Army school at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, taking Photo Lab school.
We had made a trip over to the city for the weekend and let me tell you,
times square and the village were nothing like they are today...

We had a blast, and loved the trip to the lady for sure...
 

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