The Torch of Liberty


The Statue of Liberty symbolizes liberty, democracy and freedom. It has been seen as an embodiment of the ideals on which United States was built. It is also viewed as an embodiment of the promise and hope that the New World has been offering immigrants since many centuries.

The Statue stands tall in the New York Harbor and was once the first structures seen by the immigrants arriving on boats or ships. One of the most visible and recognized parts of the statue is the torch that it holds aloft. Here is a look at the history, symbolism and significance of the torch.

Image of the Original Torch of Liberty that was replaced.


The torch and the head of the statue were one of the first parts designed by its sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The completed torch and head were then shown off in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. After the statue had been erected and dedicated, there were concerns on how to illuminate the torch.

Bartholdi suggested the use of flood lights to illuminate the torch but this suggestion was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers over concerns for ship pilots. Bartholdi then cut holes into the torch and the lights were placed inside the torch.

Lighting Issues

The original lights placed inside the torch proved very inadequate. Although they were lit up at night, they were barely visible. The management of the statue passed to the United States Lighthouse Board in 1887, primarily to improve the lighting at the torch.

The board failed to make any substantial improvements to lighting. In 1893, Bartholdi returned to the United States once again and made efforts to make the torch better visible during the night. His efforts succeeded and the lighting at the torch significantly improved.

This image gives an indication of the size of the statue of liberty see the people next to the hand of liberty!

Damage and Renovation

In 1916, the torch of the Statue of Liberty sustained some damage during German saboteur attack. Renovation work then began on the torch and it was closed to public access. Before the attack, visitors could access the torch from the head of the statue through a 40-foot single ladder.

The climb led to a small observation platform around the torch. After the attack and the subsequent renovation, public access to the torch and the surrounding platform was permanently barred.

Replacement of the Torch

In 1984, the original torch of the Statue of Liberty was taken down. It was replaced with a gold-plated replica that stands in its place today. The original torch went on a world tour and is currently placed at the Statue of Liberty museum located on the Liberty Island, close to the statue. The original torch weighed 3600 pounds whereas the replace weighs around 4000 pounds.

Symbolism and Meaning

The torch of the Statue of Liberty signifies the light of liberty. Like Prometheus who brought light to humans and granted them a greater freedom, the torch signifies the liberty as embodied by the United States. It shows the path to those seeking freedom and a new opportunity, as a welcome note to the land of promise.