It was a 100-degree Fourth Of July in 1999 and I was staggering around the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan for want of anything else to do. Before I passed out from heat stroke, I took an idle glance skywards at 64th and Broadway, and it was then that I saw her. Not Hillary, not Barbra, not Cher, but the Liberty Belle herself.
No, the Statue Of Liberty hadn’t been uprooted and moved to 64th Street.
According to the AIA Guide to New York City, this 47-foot tall replica had been here since 1902. It had been placed there to promote the Liberty Warehouse, which was the building’s original use.
The residents of a high-rise apartment building across the street have a much better view of “Little” Liberty than is available from the street.
When first built, it must have dominated the neighborhood.
I always knew there was a large replica of the Statue Of Liberty somewhere in Manhattan, but I could never find it. Until now.
Little Miss Liberty was cast in Akron, Ohio, in about 1900 at the behest of auctioneer William H. Flattau. She was shipped into NYC on a flatbed car after being sliced in half lengthwise, and then soldered together again. When first erected, the statue had a spiral staircase that allowed visitors to climb up to the top to get a panoramic view, just like in the real McCoy in the harbor. That staircase was closed in 1912 and has fallen into ruin. Perhaps it can be rebuilt when Little Liberty is moved. At the time, there were no taller buildings in the vicinity, so the view from here was panoramic.
Little Liberty, as viewed from the 8th floor at ABC network headquarters on Columbus Avenue.
The statue replicated most of the details of its larger mentor, matching the robe folds and pedestal!
After a near-100 year run on the Liberty Warehouse, Little Miss Liberty’s days in this location were numbered by 2002. The Athena Group, which owns the Liberty Warehouse, added four floors to the 8-story building and sold them as luxury apartments. That means Little Miss Liberty had to go. But where?
She currently holds her torch over the parking lot at the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway, where she had found storage for awhile. She was newly cleaned and stabilized, and was installed in 2005.
While the Manhattan Little Liberty isn’t there anymore, this one, at River Avenue near Yankee Stadium, has kept her position.
Yet one more Liberty, on Williamsbridge Road.
The real McCoy, of course, continues to greet the tempest tost, the homeless, and those yearning to breathe free in the harbor. Until Charlton Heston finds it washed up along the Brooklyn coastline in Planet Of The Apes.
David Dunlap, “Kicking Out The Kid Sister,” NY Times, January 16, 2002
Thanks to Charles Gallo for assistance with this page.
7/12/99; revised 5/30/12