130-Year-Old Lady Liberty Answers Your Most Burning Questions

She looks pretty good for her age, huh?

When the Statue of Liberty first arrived on American soil on June 17, 1885, she wasn’t exactly the woman we know and love today. But now, 130 years later, she's an iconic symbol of American freedom and democracy. She's a full-on New Yorker with a whole lot to say. That's why we got the lowdown straight from the Lady herself on some of the most common questions she gets asked.

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"So where'd you come from anyway?"

Statue of Liberty awaits in the harbor. Photo credit: CityPASS

You mean who made me look this good? Well, that was the work of a few very nice French men. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor and Gustave Eiffel was the engineer. Oh, don't tell me you don't know Gustave? I'm sure you've heard of that very famous tower in Paris he also created.

Me? I was a gift to the US from France, as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. How sweet, right? Just remember, when I arrived in the US by ship in 1885, I was only in pieces—350 pieces in 214 crates, to be exact. An American architect named Richard Morris Hunt made my pedestal and they came again a year later. I've been shining in the spotlight ever since.

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"Settle some beef. Do you belong to New York or New Jersey?"

New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty
The Eastern US is home to the Statue of Liberty and many other historic landmarks. Getty

I know it may look like I'm just hanging right smack dab in the middle of the New York Harbor, on what was called Bedloe's Island back in the day. But believe me, I'm a New Yorker through and through. Though I technically sit in New Jersey waters (and do enjoy that Frank Sinatra fella on occasion), Liberty Island officially belongs to the great state of New York.

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"Are you based on a real person or a celebrity or something?"

Statue of Liberty close up face
Kathleen Campbell/The Image Bank/Getty Images

No, I'm not secretly Betsy Ross or Martha Washington. And no, my first name is not Ellis. It's "Liberty Enlightening the World." The Roman goddess of Liberty was the inspiration for my design and robes, but my face is based on a real woman—Bartholdi's mother Charlotte! Well, that's what he said at least. 

Still, I'd call myself a bit of a celebrity, wouldn't you? I have all the Instagrams and Twitters and whatever else those silly Kardashians have. Just don't ask me why I'm not smiling in any of my photos. Mona Lisa had her secrets, and so do I.

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"How tall are you? And, umm, how much do you weigh?"

Statue of Liberty
Geoff Renner/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Now usually a true lady, the Lady, would never answer those rude questions. But since it's pretty much public knowledge, I'll tell you I stand at a very proud 305 feet and 1 inch (from ground to torch) and was taller than any other structure in New York City at the time I was built. And I weigh (gasp!) a whopping 156 tons! Want some more stats? My head is 10 feet wide, each eye is 2 1/2 feet, my nose is 4 1/2 feet, and my mouth is 3 feet. There. Are you happy now?

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"Why in the world are you such a weird color?"

Statue of Liberty in New York City
The Statue of Liberty greets cruise ships to New York City. Statue of Liberty in New York (c) Linda Garrison

When I first showed up on the New York scene, my copper was the color of a new penny. But due to a natural color-changing process called patination (look it up!), I now don the always-in-season greenish-blue hue I'm so famous for.

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"You're holding a lot of stuff. Why didn't they build you a bag or something?"

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty. Heather Cross, licensed to About.com

To show it all off, of course! Did you know the seven rays on my crown represent the seven continents of the world? Or that the Roman numerals on the tablet in my left hand stand for America's Independence Day? Or that I'm standing on a broken shackle and chains to symbolize breaking through slavery and oppression? And my torch! Or should I say torches! I've been through a lot with my symbol of enlightenment, including getting struck by lightning on several occasions.

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"What do all those words mean at the bottom of the statue?"

USA, New York State, New York City, Aerial view of city with Statue of Liberty at sunset
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi is most famous for designing the Statue of Liberty. Tetra Images/Getty Images

That would be a poem. "The New Colossus" is a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus, just for me.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

It wasn't until she shared those words, and they became a part of my pedestal, that I became the true symbol for immigration in America, serving as a beacon of hope to more than 12 million immigrating to Ellis Island.

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"Can we climb all the way up to the crown? How about the torch?"

crown and torch of Statue of Liberty
Liam Bailey/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

You most certainly can get up to the crown (as long as you book in advance)! It will take 363 fairly steep steps, the equivalent of climbing 27 stories, to make it up to the top for a peek out of one of my 25 windows. We even have a "Crown Cam" set up so you millennials can take those selfies you like so much.

I'm only joking. I'm just happy to have the company again. After September 11, 2001, my base, pedestal, and observation deck were closed for three years, and my crown was closed for eight. But due to earlier safety concerns, my torch has been off limits to visitors since 1916.

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"C'mon, what annoys you the most about tourists?"

Tourists taking photo of Statue of Liberty
Free-Photos / Pixabay

"I can see the Statue of Liberty already... very small, of course!" If I hear one more person quote this line from the movie "Titanic" as they stare up at me from the ground, I will throw my torch into the New York Harbor. Unless, it's Leo himself. He's too adorable to be mad at.

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"You're incredible. Can we come visit you already?"

Taking photo of the Statue of Liberty
Artur Debat/Moment/Getty Images

Of course, come on over! But I must warn you, I'm kind of a big deal. Oh dear, I can't believe I just said that. I mean, millions of visitors from all over the world come to see me... every single day. Especially in the summer! So just a fair warning, it may take a while on that ferry, but I promise you it will be worth the long journey. It was for me all the way back in 1885!