The Regional Review

Volume I - No. 2

August, 1938

drawing of Statue of Liberty


By V. R. Ludgate,
Regional Landscape Architect

Transformation of Bedloe Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, from its present utilitarian military post aspect into an inspiring national historical reservation is now under way in accordance with recent plans of the Service. The ultimate development proposes an atmosphere to recreate the spirit which inspired the sculpture of this international symbol of friendship and freedom.

Major features of the new broad scheme of development, which has received the approval of the National Commission of Fine Arts, follow:

1. Additions of "made ground" which will change radically the shape of the island and increase its area by almost 25 per cent.

2. Demolition of all existing army structures, including 20 buildings and two piers.

3. Construction of several new buildings to care adequately for administration and recreational use of the island.

4. Complete remodeling of the interior of the base of the statue and construction of a new terrace to provide adequate horizontal and vertical circulation for visitors.

5. Extensive planting of trees and shrubs to give the effect that the Statue arises from a completely wooded island.

A building containing general administrative offices and sanitation facilities for visitors will be placed on the north side of the new esplanade between the main boat pier and the new plaza. On the south side of the esplanade, facing the administration building will be a concession unit containing space for a refreshment counter, a souvenir store and possibly a dining room. Nearby, on the north side of the main pier, will be a ticket office, storage rooms and rest rooms. Opposite that building, on the south side of the pier, there will be an open waiting shelter for boat passengers.

Living quarters for Monument employees will be situated on the extreme north end of the island but it has not yet been determined what form these facilities will take. On the northwest corner of Bedloe, near the employees' living quarters, there will be a small utility unit to house electric transformers, master switchboards controlling illumination of the Statue, water pumps and other essential machinery. Plans for all buildings still are in the sketch stage but it already has been determined that none of the structures will extend vertically above the foliage line and a visitor who views the island from the water will see only the Statue rising above the trees.

The two existing boat piers will be demolished but the one on the west side of the island will be replaced at approximately the same location by a modern landing 250 feet long and 60 feet wide of heavy timber construction with a top surface of asphalt planks. The channel to that pier will be broadened and deepened to accommodate passenger boat service. In addition, a small boat basin will be constructed at the northwest corner of Bedloe. Its granite wall. will enclose a mooring surface 150 feet by 150 feet to provide space for several 40-foot craft.

All physical features of the island which are complementary to the Statue will be reoriented. A broad esplanade will extend from the new main boat pier at the west to a 100-foot flagpole erected on an overlook situated at the east seawall. Just west of the flagpole will be the intersection of a wider avenue having as its axis the Statue at the south and the small boat basin at the north. The avenue will embrace two great central green plots flanked by paved walks, and its length, from the entrance of the boat basin to the entrance of the old fort which surrounds the Statue will be approximately 900 feet. The esplanade, the walks of the central grass mall and those around the fort and around the seawall all will be paved with stone.

An extensive program of planting for landscape effect will include the setting of about 400 trees, mostly on the middle and northwest portions of the island, and there also will be considerable base and hedge planting. About 14,000 square yards will be sodded.

Architectural plans are being prepared by Assistant Architect Fred P. Parris in cooperation with the Branch of Engineering. It is estimated the work, exclusive of buildings, will cost more than $1,500,000.

drawing of Bedloe Island

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Date: 04-Jul-2002