Do This: Climb to the Crown

Exciting news! We climbed to the Statue of Liberty’s crown on Saturday!

The crown, which had been closed to visitors since 9/11, was reopened last Independence Day. I have wanted to make my way up to the top since it reopened, but the problem has always been getting tickets. Access to the crown is extremely limited, and only 240 tickets are available each day.

We were perusing tickets online on Saturday around noon, trying to determine which time we should select on November 7 – the first weekend date that had two tickets available. In the midst of this, we happened to click back over to the July calendar and saw that tickets were suddenly available for 1:00 pm that afternoon. We snapped them up as fast as we could, and hopped on the train. Even though I had a printed confirmation, it wasn’t until we had physically picked up the tickets that I believed we had actually been so lucky. A big part of me had believed it was just a computer glitch.

We boarded the ferry in Battery Park, and, once we arrived on Liberty Island, we checked in with a ranger, where we were given bright orange bracelets. He told us that someone had called and canceled their reservation that morning, and that was how we managed to get the tickets. Once we had our bracelets, we had to stash all of our stuff in a locker and then go through another security check before being let into the monument base. We climbed the stairs to the observation point on the monument, and then another ranger ushered us behind a rope to another staircase. That staircase led us to a landing where another ranger took our orange bracelets and showed us the spiral staircase that climbed to the crown.


my nemesis, the spiral staircase

Let me stop here and mention that I have both acrophobia1 and claustrophobia, which, as you might imagine, is awesome. Honestly, my palms are sweating now just thinking about that staircase. It was steep and it was narrow, and it took all of my energy to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other. If I let my mind stray from the task of concentrating on my feet, it started screaming, STOP! Do you know what you’re doing? You are CLIMBING to the TOP of the STATUE OF LIBERTY! What is WRONG with you? Obviously, I wanted to keep that chatter out of my head.

I hurried up those stairs as quickly as I could, and then we were in the crown. There’s a tiny little deck where you can look out the windows in the crown. I swear the deck was tilted, and I spent the majority of the 30 minutes or so we spent in the crown clinging to the interior beams in unbridled terror. I was sure that if I let go I would lose my balance and tumble over the edge to my death. This, of course, was completely ludicrous. I manage to pass most days without falling down – in fact, the only fall in recent memory can be blamed on some errant blueberries in Whole Foods – and, even if I had lost my balance, it would have taken purposeful effort to get over the railing, and even then I would have just landed on the stairs. Even at the time, I realized that this was a completely irrational fear but, well, that’s why it’s a phobia.


inside the crown


the tablet, from an angle only available in the crown


us peering through the windows, me smiling my “terrified” smile

I realize my “Do This” post title is a bit incongruous with the nail-biting experience that I’m describing, but everyone else in the crown seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience. (This includes the pregnant woman who I had to step over on the way up because she needed to take a break part-way up the stairs.) The view is amazing, and there’s something incredibly neat about being inside such an iconic statue. Even though I wasn’t exactly at ease during my visit, I’m very glad I did it. (I just won’t be doing it again!)

After we descended the 354 stairs from the crown, we visited the museum in the base. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the museum was really interesting and informative. I learned a lot about the design and construction of the statue, and there are some replicas of the frames that were used to enlarge the scale of the statue from its model to its full size. The most interesting thing I learned was that Gustave Eiffel, who would later design the Eiffel Tower, designed the interior support system.


the old torch, which was replaced in 1986 and now resides in the base of the monument

We also took the ferry over to Ellis Island, but we didn’t have nearly enough time there. The brochure recommends at least three hours; we only had one. We’ll just have to come back!

There are a few more pictures over on Flickr!

Read More:
Buy tickets! [Statue Cruises]
Statue of Liberty’s Crown Will Reopen July 4 [City Room Blog, NYT]
At Pinnacle of Liberty, Feeling a Bit Confined [NYT]


1 As evidence, I present this picture, taken atop Temple V at Tikal. I’m clinging onto that wall for dear life, and assuming that every moment is my last.
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5 responses to “Do This: Climb to the Crown

  1. the spiral staircase is beautiful but i can imagine that it wasn’t very fun to climb. kudos to you for overcoming your phobias and making the trek. i’m chewing my nails just reading about it.

  2. so fun to be a tourist in your own city :) :) I need to com visit so i can be a tourist with you!!!!!!!

  3. Pingback: Do This: Discovering Columbus | perky to a fault

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