The Statue of Liberty is a lighthouse.

The Origin of the Status of Liberty as a Lighthouse

The Statue of Liberty is technically lighthouse, and was even at one point even under the operation of the Lighthouse Board. However, it never properly functioned as a lighthouse.[1][2]

The story goes like this:

The original plans for the Statue of Liberty came from an idea by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi to build a statue / lighthouse that represented progress robbed and holding a torch at the entryway of the Suez Canal in Port Said, Egypt.

That project never went through, with instead the less expensive and complex Port Said Lighthouse being built in its place, but Barthodi’s idea did go on to become the Statue of Liberty.

With that in mind, it is probably a good thing that the statue was never built on the Suez Canal, because although the Statue of Liberty ended up being a lighthouse, it never properly functioned as one (despite the Lighthouse Board’s attempts to increase the brightness of the light).

Consider the excerpt below from Wikipedia’s page on the Statue of Liberty:

When the torch was illuminated on the evening of the statue’s dedication, it produced only a faint gleam, barely visible from Manhattan. The World characterized it as “more like a glowworm than a beacon.” Bartholdi suggested gilding the statue to increase its ability to reflect light, but this proved too expensive. The United States Lighthouse Board took over the Statue of Liberty in 1887 and pledged to install equipment to enhance the torch’s effect; in spite of its efforts, the statue remained virtually invisible at night. When Bartholdi returned to the United States in 1893, he made additional suggestions, all of which proved ineffective. He did successfully lobby for improved lighting within the statue, allowing visitors to better appreciate Eiffel’s design. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt, once a member of the New York committee, ordered the statue’s transfer to the War Department, as it had proved useless as a lighthouse.

FACT: The metal framework of the Statue of Liberty was built by Gustave Eiffel, the same Eiffel behind the Eiffel tower.

FACT: The United States Lighthouse Board took over the Statue of Liberty in 1887 and administered it until 1901 when it was taken over by the War Department.


FACT: The Statue of Liberty still functions as a rather useless lighthouse today, as it stays lit with a “keeper of the flame” ensuring a light bulb is always working.


The Statue of Liberty is technically a lighthouse, although it has never really properly functioned as one.


  1. Statue of Liberty. Wikipedia.org.
  2. History of the Statue of Liberty Lighthouse. .us-lighthouses.com

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