The Statue of Liberty is getting props – with five webcams attached to the torch held high in New York Harbor, providing views not seen by the public for nearly a century.
The webcams will go live Friday at a ceremony on Liberty Island marking the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the copper-clad monument, which was a gift from France to the American people.
From distant computers, viewers will be able to watch live video feeds of traffic, boats and airplanes in high-resolution panoramic images showing the skyline of Manhattan, the Borough of Brooklyn and neighboring New Jersey.
“For people who don’t come to the Statue of Liberty, it will be a whole new opportunity for them to see the statue, what surrounds it and how it fits into the overall cityscape,” Stephen Briganti , president of the Statue of Liberty -Ellis Island Foundation, said in an interview Tuesday.
Authorities closed the torch to the public in 1916 during World War I, after an explosion at a nearby ammunition depot blamed on German saboteurs damaged the statue.
Since then, the panoramic views have only been seen by a handful of people involved in the maintenance of the statue.
“It’s a hell of a climb,” said Briganti, who made the last difficult climb on the statue’s right arm in the 1980s.
The cameras are housed in steel containers that are slightly smaller than the shoe boxes, he said.
One of them points straight down, providing an unusual view of the statue’s crown and anyone moving around the base of the statue about 300 feet below.
“I call it ‘Hi mom!’ Briganti said, suggesting that visitors to the statue might arrange to greet friends and family back home.
Two more webcams are being installed in Brooklyn, pointing to the statue.
EarthCam, a New Jersey-based webcam technology company, donated the cameras.
Web users will be able to access the feeds from the EarthCam website and the National Park Service Statue of Liberty website.
Officials are planning a day of events Friday on Liberty Island to mark the anniversary, including a reading of Emma Lazurus’ poem “The New Colossus” by actress Sigourney Weaver and performances of the French and US national anthems.
To mark the statue’s role as a symbol of hope for immigrants seeking a better life in America, 125 immigrants will be naturalized as U.S. citizens as part of the celebration.
After the celebration, access to the interior of the statue, including its crown, will be closed for approximately one year while the statue is renovated, although Liberty Island will remain open to visitors.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)