Q. Was it always called the "Statue of Liberty"?
A. Pretty much, though originally that was just the beginning of the name. "It was called the statue of `Liberty, Enlightening the World,' " according to National Park Service historian and author Barry Moreno. "The other name they called it a lot was the `Great Goddess of Liberty'--but eventually the 'Statue of Liberty' won out.' "
Q. Why does it seem so small?
A. It didn't used to. When it was dedicated in 1886, the statue was New York's tallest structure. That lasted until 1899. Times change. The World Trade Center towers were about equal in height to 4 1/2 Statues of Liberty (including pedestal and base), one on top of the other.
Q. How tall was the Colossus of Rhodes?
A. No one really knows. An earthquake shattered it around 224 B.C., 56 years after its construction, and no ruins survive. Nonetheless, the consensus is it stood at something approaching 110 feet, colossal but considerably shorter than the Statue of Liberty.
Q. How many copper pennies, stacked, would equal the height of the copper Statue of Liberty?
A. According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, about 30,270,000.
Q. Any more good stats?
A. The statue's nose is 4 feet 6 inches long. The mouth is 3 feet wide. Her right arm is 42 feet long. Her index finger is 8 feet long. From ear to ear, her head is 10 feet wide. Her fingernail would weigh 3 1/2 pounds. Her shoe size (she wears sandals) would be 879.
Q. Does she bend with the breeze?
A. A little: 3 inches in 50 m.p.h. winds. The torch sways 5 inches.
Q. What's America's second-tallest statue?
A. At 55 feet, it's Vulcan, atop Red Mountain above Birmingham, Ala. Now being restored, he's made of iron mined from the mountain he rules. Blushing Alabamans once painted overalls over his overall nakedness, but the jeans have, well, faded.
Q. Does Liberty's torch look different, or is it my imagination?
A. It's a replacement torch, from the 1980s restoration. The original was too far gone to fix. It also leaked, sending stained water down the statue's arm. This one is actually closer to the way it looked in 1886; the original's flame had been tinkered with over the years.
Q. What famous sculptor of monuments assisted in the torch-tinkering?
A. Gutzon Borglum, who gave us Mt. Rushmore. He had the torch's flame--which in 1886 had been covered with solid copper--latticed with stained glass and illuminated from within. That's what made it glow. It's also what made it leak.
Q. And what's that, um, dark stuff under her nose?
A. New copper, from the restoration. Workmen had punched holes into the original nose to help drain water that leaked into the head, but that turned out to be a bad idea. In time, the patch will be green, like the rest of her; for now, it's a swatch of the statue's original color.
Q. Are pets allowed on Liberty Island?
A. Not yours, aside from service animals. But National Park Service personnel bring in sheep dogs to humanely chase away Canada geese.
Q. Have there been suicides there?
A. Nice question. OK, according to historian Moreno, two, both of them men who jumped. The first, by a Brooklyn lad, was in 1929, not over the stock market crash but reportedly over an unrequiting female. The other victim, in 1997, was a Senegalese immigrant; his motivation was unclear.
Q. How did Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" come to be on the statue?
A. It never has been on the actual statue. The 1883 poem--containing the memorable "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . ."-- was written to help raise money for the pedestal (it netted $1,500 at auction) and was affixed to the inner walls of that pedestal in 1903 as a tribute to Lazarus, who died of cancer in 1887 at age 38. It has moved around some, but it's still in there, in an area off-limits, since September 2001, to the public.
Q. Which leads to this question: Will the interiors of the pedestal and the statue ever be open to the public again?
A. Yes, says Brian Feeney, spokesman for the National Park Service's New York sites, most notably the statue and Ellis Island. "I can't give you dates, but it's our goal to reopen it."
Q. Is it safe to visit the statue?
A. "I say yes, absolutely," says Feeney. "We have taken extraordinary measures to secure the island. The only thing the visitors see is the screening they go through, but there's a plethora of invisible things that they do not see."
Q. How do people get out there?
A. Boats to Liberty Island depart daily except Christmas from Battery Park from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. during peak summer dates; hours and frequency (typically every half hour or so) vary by season and are subject to change. Adult tickets (round-trip only) are $10, $8 for seniors 62 and over, and $4 for kids 4-12 (younger kids are free). Fares include Ellis Island as well, and there is no additional entry fee. Ferries also depart from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. For information on all the boats: 212-269-5755; www.statueoflibertyferry.com.
Q. Is there any other way to see the statue?
A. Well, the free Staten Island Ferry (frequent sailings, 24 hours) won't get you to Liberty Island, but you will get to within range of a reasonable-zoom camera lens. Circle Line Harbor Tours (same prices, phone and Web site as the Liberty boats) include a brush with the statue--but no landing--as well as proximity to other interesting things. Or you can bring good binoculars (or use the coin-operated ones) at Battery Park.
But nothing beats being right there.
For further information on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, call 212-363-3200, or check the National Park Service Web site, www.nps.gov/stli.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun