November 24, 2020
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is about more than just seeing her up close. Her home at Liberty Island houses a museum, an old war fort, and two different viewpoints from inside the statue herself- the pedestal and the crown. Both are different and fun in their own way, but do come with a few surprises that you might not be aware of. And each one requires its own ticket upgrade.
This guide will give you all the details you need to know before your visit to the crown and/or the pedestal- information on tickets, what the view is like, and the experience of getting to both.
The pedestal refers to the stone structure sitting between the bottom of the statue and on top of the old, star-shaped war fort. It supports the statue while also increasing her height. Pedestal tickets grant you access inside, as well as access to the outdoor balcony that sits just below the statue’s feet. It’s 89 feet (or 27 meters) tall and offers beautiful views of Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Manhattan and New York Harbor.
Pedestal tickets are slightly limited, but there is still a chance you could purchase a pedestal ticket for the same day. Availability is not guaranteed though, so if you are eager to climb the pedestal it’s safer to book your ticket in advance. You’re more likely to score same-day pedestal tickets during slower months, like January and February.
You should be aware that a standard reserve or flex ticket is not the same as a pedestal ticket, even though they’re the same price. Your ticket, whether it’s flex or reserve, must also say “pedestal access” in order for you to enter the pedestal. You can buy either in person at Castle Clinton or online.
Guide tip: There are many tours that offer access to the statute’s pedestal, with the tickets included in the cost of the tour. This is a great option if you’re looking to see the pedestal but didn’t get a chance to buy your ticket ahead of time. Many tour operators will let you book a tour the morning of, which means you’ll get a ticket to the pedestal as well.
The view from the pedestal is surprisingly great, considering it’s only about 8 stories tall. The best part is that the viewing balcony is 360° around, so you can get different perspectives from each side. You’ll be able to see New York Harbor, Ellis Island, Jersey City, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and dozens of other buildings.
One thing to keep in mind is that the balcony is outside. There’s no awning or heater so if it’s raining or freezing cold, you’re forced to deal with the elements while you enjoy your view. Also, like any other observation decks, if it’s a particularly foggy day, your view might be disappointing.
Climbing to the pedestal isn’t super difficult. From the base to the top is exactly 192 steps. It sounds daunting, I know, but it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. Plus, the staircases are nice and wide and there’s plenty of landing areas for you to step aside and rest if you need to catch your breath.
There is also an elevator if you need it, but you will have to climb 26 steps after exiting the elevator to get all the way to the top. If you are traveling in a wheelchair, there is a small service elevator available, but the balcony won’t be accessible to you because of its size.
The balcony itself is pretty tight. From side to side it’s only a few feet in width, which makes it slightly difficult to walk around and squeeze by other people. When it’s crowded, getting around to all four sides could take some time as you are limited by where other people are standing and moving. At the end of the day, it’s still an enjoyable experience, just something to be prepared for.
Since it is a tight space, and the National Parks wants to allow as many people as possible, backpacks, other large bags and food and drink (besides water) are not permitted inside the pedestal. If you’re traveling with a backpack/food & drink, there is a locker storage area available just before the entrance. So you can store your items until you are done with your visit.
Finally, in addition to the security check that happens right before you board the ferry, there will be a second security check right before you enter the pedestal. Rules here are a little more strict, so be sure to check online before your trip to make sure you avoid bringing any prohibited items. But if it does happen, those lockers I mentioned are available for you.
The Statue of Liberty’s crown sits at the top of her head. Inside is a small viewing area, with 25 windows wrapping around. Many people visiting the pedestal mistakenly assume they have access to the crown. While this used to be the case, changes in security have severely limited the number of people who get to climb to the top every day, making this one of the most unique and difficult-to-book experiences in the city.
Tickets for the crown are much harder to book than pedestal tickets. Same day tickets are not available, and they typically have to be booked weeks (or months) in advance. The exact timing depends on the season, but just to be safe, I’d recommend booking them 3 to 4 months out if you really want to visit the crown. Only 300 people per day are allowed inside, so spots fill up quickly.
As far as pricing, the crown tickets are only $3 more than pedestal tickets. It’s definitely affordable, it just requires really advanced planning and the tickets must be bought online or over the phone. Because of the capacity limits, you can only reserve tickets for four people at a time and only one reservation is allowed per 6-month period.
Tour groups are not allowed inside the crown, due to the capacity limitations.
When you arrive to board the ferry, the tickets must be picked up at Will Call and a name and valid identification for each visitor must be presented. So the entire group must be present to pick up their individual tickets. The credit card used to purchase the tickets must also be presented as well.
Once you get to Liberty Island, you will head to the second security screening facility at the entrance to the pedestal and receive a wristband that indicates you have access to the crown.
Unfortunately, the view from the crown is not nearly as impressive as many people expect. My favorite part is getting to see the body of the statue from above. Other than that, you can’t see much else except New York Harbor. The skyline of Manhattan is just barely visible through the smaller windows in the farthest corner.
The statue itself doesn’t face New York, but is actually looking east towards Europe. Because of this, and because the crown is limited to 25 windows rather than a 360° view, you can only see one small section of the view that is available from the pedestal. Pictures are also much harder to take because you are looking out through panes of glass rather than being outdoors.
This isn’t to say that visiting the crown isn’t enjoyable. In my opinion, the joy of climbing to the crown comes from seeing the inside of the statue, standing in her head and looking down to see a rare view of the statue from above. The experience is what makes the journey worth it, rather than the view itself.
As you would do when visiting the pedestal, you’ll need to go through a second security check on your way to the crown. Your backpacks and food/drink will need to be stored in lockers and, unlike the pedestal, any other bag you have with you must be stored away as well. Any of the belongings that you wish to bring with you to the crown must be kept in your pockets or held in your hand.
Once inside, you’ll climb the initial 192 steps to get to the pedestal. So you will have a chance to experience the pedestal and see the view before you head all the way up to the crown.
When you’re ready, the National Parks ranger will take your wristband and send you up the second set of stairs to the crown. From the pedestal deck to the crown, it’s another 162 steps. By the time you reach the top, you’ll have climbed 354 steps in total. Or the height of a 27 story building. Be prepared for a strenuous climb.
The staircase is very narrow and very steep. It’s a tight spiral to the top and the steps are very close together. If you are claustrophobic or don’t enjoy high spaces, this might be something to consider. There is no elevator either. On top of that, the body of the statue is not air conditioned. It’s typically about 20° warmer than the temperature outside. This can be very dangerous in the summer if you don’t hydrate properly. Make sure to go to the bathroom ahead of time as well.
Inside the crown, the landing (or viewing area) is pretty cramped. There’s not a lot of room, which is why groups of no more than 10 people are allowed up at one time. Per hour, about 6 groups will ascend. Like the pedestal, you have to be mindful of other people and be careful not to be in anyone’s way.
Despite all of this, seeing the inside of the statue in person is unforgettable. You’ll see the waves of her hair, the steel rods that support her copper plates and a view that only about 100,000 people see every year.
As of this time, due to the global pandemic, there are no visitors permitted inside the pedestal or the crown. Re-opening dates have yet to be announced, so be sure to check the website for updates.
As you can see, whether you choose the pedestal or the crown, visiting the inside of the statue provides a memorable experience. The price is very affordable and it gives you even more to do once you’ve made it to the island. Personally, I wouldn’t want to wait in line, go through security, and ride a boat just to take a few pictures.
Even if you can’t get tickets to the crown, visiting the pedestal provides the amazing views, and you’ll still be able to see the inside of the statue. Or maybe the extra effort and planning of the crown doesn’t appeal to you. This is something most people don’t think of until the day of and by then it’s too late. The above knowledge will make your trip to the statue smoother, better planned and void of any unexpected surprises.