LOWER MANHATTAN — Nearly 100 years have passed since members of the public climbed up to Lady Liberty's torch and took in the stunning views of New York Harbor.
Closed for safety reasons in 1916, the torch has long been inaccessible to everyone except for a few maintenance workers.
But this week, in honor of the Statue of Liberty's 125th birthday, the National Park Service is launching new webcams that will broadcast the long-restricted vistas continuously to people all over the world.
"It's like nothing you've ever seen before," said Brian Cury, CEO of EarthCam, the company that donated and installed the cameras. "You can enjoy an American icon from a vantage point that no one has really seen. It's really and truly amazing."
The "torch cam" is actually five separate cameras posted on the torch, 305 feet above the ground. One points upward to offer a fish-eye view of the torch itself, one points down at the statue's crown and the other three capture panoramic views of lower Manhattan, Governors Island, Ellis Island and beyond.
All five feeds will be available round-the-clock at the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's website starting Oct. 28.
"It's a breathtaking view," Stephen Briganti, the foundation's president, said in a statement. "The foundation is delighted to…bring never-before-seen views of Liberty Island and New York Harbor to the general public."
The new torch cameras are just one piece of a daylong celebration of Lady Liberty on Friday, marking the 125th anniversary of the statue's dedication.
The festivities will kick off with a naturalization ceremony for 125 immigrants hailing from more than 40 countries, including Haiti, Honduras, China, Croatia and Senegal.
Then, the formal program at 10 a.m. will feature Sigourney Weaver reading the Emma Lazarus poem "The New Colossus" and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar presenting a gift of friendship to a French representative, as a token of thanks for their gift of the Statue of Liberty in 1886.
"The statue has evolved in meaning since she first graced our shores 125 years ago," David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, said in a statement.
"She began as a symbol of friendship between France and the United States, evolved into a symbol of our great country, and is known today as an international symbol of freedom for people everywhere. This coming Friday is an opportunity to celebrate her complete legacy."
The celebration will conclude Friday evening with a 7:45 p.m. fireworks show sponsored by Macy's, which, for the first time in 25 years, will feature pyrotechnics launched from Liberty Island itself. The 12-minute show will be scored to patriotic tunes including "God Bless America" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
Following the ceremony, the Statue of Liberty will close for a year of renovations, but Liberty Island will remain open to visitors.
For more information about the 125th anniversary events, visit the National Park Service's website.