Image: Looking up to Lady Liberty
Jeff Zelevansky  /  EPA, file
Visitors pose for photographs in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York, USA, on 4 July 2009.
updated 10/23/2011 8:38:36 PM ET 2011-10-24T00:38:36

Give me your tired, your poor — your Internet-connected masses yearning to see.

Lady Liberty is getting high-tech gifts for her 125th birthday: webcams on her torch that will let viewers gaze out at New York Harbor and read the tablet in her hands or see visitors on the grounds of the island below in real time.

The five torch cams are to be switched on Friday during a ceremony to commemorate the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on Oct. 28, 1886. The ceremony caps a week of events centered around the historic date, including the debut of a major museum exhibition about poet Emma Lazarus, who helped bring the monument renown as the "Mother of Exiles."

The statue's webcams will offer views from the torch that have been unavailable to the public since 1916, said Stephen A. Briganti, the president of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc.

Related: Statue of Liberty to close for yearlong repairs

"The statue is the most famous symbol in the world," he said. "Most of the people in the world have seen it, but they have not seen it like this. It will be a visit that so many people, including New Yorkers, have never taken before."

Through the webcams, Internet users around the world will have four views, including a high-quality, 180-degree stitched panorama of the harbor with stunning views of Ellis and Governors islands. They will be able to watch as ships go by Liberty Island and observe as the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center goes up floor-by-floor in lower Manhattan. They can get a fish-eye look at the torch itself as it glows in the night.

The five cameras, which will be on 24 hours, seven days a week, were donated to the National Park Service by Earthcam Inc., a New Jersey-based company that manages webcams around the world.

The cameras put viewers on the balcony of the torch and high above the crown, said Brian Cury, the founder of Earthcam.

"This is not your dad's picture of the Statue of Liberty," he said. "This is not a view from a tourist helicopter. This is unique."

Friday's ceremony also will be marked by a water flotilla, actress Sigourney Weaver reading Lazarus' poem and a naturalization ceremony for 125 candidates for citizenship representing over 40 countries.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

The public is invited to attend the ceremony, with ferry service available between Manhattan and Liberty Island. The interior of the statue — from the pedestal down to the museum base — will close after the 125th anniversary celebration for up to a year so that stairwells, elevators and mechanical systems can be upgraded. The park itself will remain open to visitors.

The statue, designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was given by the French government to the U.S. as a token of friendship between the two countries and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.

And while today it is known as a symbol of liberty for millions of refugees and exiles, initially the famous sonnet by Lazarus in the voice of the statue asking for "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" did not appear on the statue. It was not until 1903 that "The New Colossus" was placed on the pedestal.

Lazarus is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, which has views of Lady Liberty. It's to open Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of the statue's dedication.

Curator Melissa Martens said Lazarus was born into the fourth generation of a Jewish family in New York prominent since colonial times. "They were some of the early people to articulate the Jewish experience in dialogue with the challenges of freedom and religious liberty," she said.

Featuring over 83 original objects from 27 institutions and individuals, "Poet of Exiles" is the first full-fledged artifact exhibit at a major museum to robustly explore the life of Lazarus, from her work as an advocate for immigrants fleeing the Russian pogroms of the early 1880s to her pioneering support for a Jewish homeland.

Lazarus died in 1887 at age 38 from Hodgkin's disease, never having known her poem would be united with the Statue of Liberty.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Lady Liberty gets a makeover

  1. Transcript of: Lady Liberty gets a makeover

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The Statue of Liberty turns 125 years old this October, which seems like a good opportunity to get a little work done. Lady Liberty is getting a $27 million interior makeover. So the statue will be closed for a year after the upcoming birthday celebration. New stairways and elevators are planned, and water and mechanical systems will finally be upgraded. Closure won't change most people's tourist experience, though. Only about a third of visitors make reservations to actually go inside.

Photos: America the Beautiful

loading photos...
  1. Canyonlands, Utah

    Mesa Arch stands as one of many highlights at Canyonlands, which was made a national park in 1964 and now covers 527 square miles. Time and weather have carved mesas, buttes and canyons out of the sedimentary sandstone. (Joseph Van Os / Getty via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Redwoods, California

    Soaring more than 300 feet high and living for as long as 3,000 years, California redwoods make human history seem like an eye-blink. (The largest specimens were mature when Christ was born.) Here, a passerby travels through Sequoia National Park, on the western flank of the Sierra Nevada range. (Michael Melford / LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The Maine coast

    The often rocky, sometimes sandy, coast offers something for everyone. Whether it's a seaside stroll, a dip in the bracing seas, a lobster roll or an elegant meal, the Maine coast provides indelible memories -- and stunning views. (Gerald Brimacombe / LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Washington, D.C.

    Within this city beats the heart of American democracy -- the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court. There are monuments to the great -- Washington and Lincoln -- and the lesser-known patriots, who are honored at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Charlie Tasnadi / AP via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Wrigley Field, Chicago

    In the tradition-steeped American pastime of baseball, Wrigley Field remains a standout. With real-grass fields and brick walls covered with ivy in the outfield, the stadium provides the perfect memory-soaked site for listening to the crack of bats and hometown cheers, and savoring peanuts and Cracker Jack. (Jim Sugar / Corbis via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Santa Catalina Island, California

    Santa Catalina Island's city of Avalon was first developed as a resort in 1887 during an early boom in Southern California real estate. In the 1920s, William Wrigley Jr. poured money and time into the island -- and made sure his Chicago Cubs team did their spring training here. Current residents include bison, descendants of extras shipped in for a 1925 movie, "The Vanishing American." (Robert Landau / Corbis via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Mount Rainier, Washington

    Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, with ice and snow covering 35 square miles. The 14,410-foot peak was named in 1792, when British explorer Capt. George Vancouver named it after a friend of his, Rear Adm. Peter Rainier. (Harvey Lloyd / Getty via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Multnomah Falls, Oregon

    The Columbia River Gorge is rife with waterfalls. And then there's Multnomah Falls, falling 620 feet and billed as the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the country. A footbridge, built in 1914 by Italian stonemasons, allows visitors to cross the falls between the upper and lower cataracts. (John McAnulty / Corbis via LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Mystic, Connecticut

    Located on a tidal river, Mystic thrived as a 19th-century port. Nowadays, it offers glimpses of the past, with classic ships, a whaling museum and a world-class aquarium. And yes, it's where the 1988 movie "Mystic Pizza" was filmed, starring a newcomer named Julia Roberts. (Alfred Eisenstaedt / LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The San Juan Islands, Washington

    Four of the San Juan Islands can be accessed by ferry and are popular summer destinations for nearby Seattle-area residents and other tourists. The islands are rugged, spectacular locales, with towering trees, orcas, bald eagles -- and a calming sense of peace. (Harald Sun / LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 100 places to see in your lifetime

    The Tetons in Wyoming grace the cover of Life Book's publication, "America the Beautiful: 100 Places to See in Your Lifetime." The images along the bottom, from left to right, are volcanoes in Hawaii; Block Island, R.I.; and the Grand Canyon.

    More about the book on Overhead Bin. (LIFE) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Joseph Van Os / Getty via LIFE
    Above: Slideshow (11) America the Beautiful
  2. Gareth Mccormack / Lonely Planet Images
    Slideshow (28) America's national parks
  3. Image: Image: A full moon rises over New York City above 42nd Street, as seen across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey
    Gary Hershorn / Reuters
    Slideshow (19) The Big Apple


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments