Millions of American immigrants first glimpsed at their new land when they laid their eyes on the Statue of Liberty, a national monument that still ennobles all those who encounter it. Liberty Enlightening the World, as the statue is officially named, was sculpted by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and presented in 1886 to the United States as a gift from France. Since then she has become a near-universal symbol of freedom and democracy, standing a proud 152 ft high on top of an 89-ft pedestal (executed by Richard Morris Hunt), on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Emma Lazarus's sonnet The New Colossus ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...") is inscribed on a bronze plaque attached to the statue's base. Gustav Eiffel designed the statue's iron skeleton. In anticipation of her centennial, Liberty underwent a long-overdue restoration in the mid-'80s and reemerged with great fanfare on July 4, 1986.
The top of the statue is accessible in two ways: an elevator ascends 10 stories to the top of the pedestal, or, if you are in good shape, you can climb 354 steps (the equivalent of a 22-story building) to the crown. (Visitors cannot go up into the torch.) Be forewarned that, in summer, only the first daily ferry load of passengers is allowed to walk up to the crown; come prepared to contend with the heat, both outside waiting in line and inside the statue. Other times of the year, the park service occasionally closes off the line to the crown as early as 2. So it's vital to catch an early ferry out of Castle Clinton National Monument; the earliest leaves at 9 (times vary seasonally).