Statue of Liberty in popular culture

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February 1979: Statue of Liberty apparently submerged, Lake Mendota Madison, Wisconsin

After the Statue of Liberty's 1886 unveiling, it quickly became iconic, featured in scores of posters, pictures, and books. The statue's likeness was also used or featured in motion pictures, television programs, music videos and video games. Images of the statue have been used as a logo, on commemorative coins, and in theatrical productions. It remains a popular local, national, and international political symbol and marketing image.

Screen and stage[edit]



The Statue of Liberty is on the reverse of all Presidential $1 coins
  • On April 8, 1983, CBS broadcast a program, the fifth of a series featuring illusionist David Copperfield, in which he made the statue apparently vanish. The effect took place at night. The program showed the statue from the point of view of an audience seated on a ground-level platform, viewing the statue between two scaffolding towers in which a large curtain was raised.[1]
  • Epcot's The American Adventure attraction ends with Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain standing on the Statue's torch, relishing their view of America. The attraction opened in 1982, and so used a replica of the Statue prior to its 1986 renovations.
  • In 1978, as part of a University of Wisconsin–Madison prank, Lady Liberty appeared to be standing submerged in a frozen-over local lake.[2]


  • On the television show Fringe, Liberty Island is the militarized stronghold of the Department of Defense in the alternate universe, and scenes from several episodes take place on or around the island. In the show's alternate universe, the statue has not acquired a green patina and is its original copper color.
  • In the Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda episode The Sum of Its Parts, Captain Dylan Hunt quotes the poem on the Statue.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Angels Take Manhattan", the statue is depicted as a colossal Weeping Angel.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Death Has a Shadow", the Statue is shown on television at a stag party and all the guys there drink until she "looks hot". In the episode "I Take Thee Quagmire", Peter gets Quagmire the Statue's foot as a wedding present, leading Mayor West to believe that the Statue was blown up.
  • Toward the end of Michael Jackson's video for "Black or White", Jackson can be seen standing at the top of a replica of the statue.

Video Game[edit]

  • In the 2014 video game Assassin's Creed: Unity, the statue appears in a time distortion Rift Mission which features 1889 Paris as a paradox; the statue should have been shipped from France to America by that year as mentioned in the game.


Books and stories[edit]

Statue of Diana
  • A 1911 O. Henry story relates a fanciful conversation between "Mrs. Liberty" and another statue;[3] "The Lady Higher Up" relates a fanciful dialog between the statue and the then-famous Statue of Diana at Madison Square Garden. In the story, Diana asks "Mrs. Liberty" why she speaks with what Diana terms a "City Hall brogue." Liberty answers: "If ye'd studied the history of art in its foreign complications ye'd not need to ask. If ye wasn't so light-headed and giddy ye'd know that I was made by a Dago and presented to the American people on behalf of the French Government for the purpose of welcomin' Irish immigrants into the Dutch city of New York."[3]
  • During the 1940s and 1950s, the iconography of science fiction in the United States was filled with images of ancient, decayed Statues of Liberty, set in the distant future. The covers of famous pulp magazines such as Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction all featured Lady Liberty at one time, surrounded by ruins or by the sediments of the ages, as curious aliens or representatives of advanced or degenerate humans of the future gazed upon her remains. The February 1941 cover of Astounding showed a primitive man and woman approaching on a raft a Statue of Liberty surrounded by wild growth.
  • Jack Finney's 1970 novel Time and Again takes advantage of the presence, in 1882, of just the arm and torch of the statue in Madison Square Park for an important plot development.
  • In the first novel Sabrina of Scott M. Stockton's Power of the Gods series, the Statue of Liberty is heavily damaged during an earthquake in chapter 28. In which the author implies that his central character had generated massive land-movement with the use of her paranormal capabilities, while three teenage girls stood on the statue's torch during a high school field-trip.
  • In the final scene of Maggie-Now by Betty Smith, two characters scatter Maggie's late husband's ashes from the statue's torch.[citation needed]
  • In Amerika by Franz Kafka, the author inaccurately depicts the statue as holding aloft a sword rather than a torch.
  • The DC Comics superhero Miss America was originally granted her powers by the Statue in a vision. This was later retconned to have been a dream; she had really gained her powers from an experiment.
  • In the Marvel Comics universe, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is the secret meeting spot between superheroes Spider-Man and his friend/confidant Human Torch.
  • The final chapter of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach reveals that "The Glow-worm became the light inside the torch on the Statue of Liberty, and thus saved a grateful City from having to pay a huge electricity bill every year."
  • Ellen Kushner's 1986 Choose Your Own Adventure book Statue of Liberty Adventure has the protagonist exploring the statue to find its original inspiration.
  • In a special Cinema Classics of the Monica's Gang, the name of the history of the planet was Coelinhos, a page in the Statue of Liberty appears mired in the sand.
  • In the disaster novels Her Name Will Be Faith[4] and Category 7: The Biggest Storm in History[5] hurricanes cause storm surges that topple the statue into the Hudson River.
  • The history of the Statue of Liberty is told in the 2008 book Lady Liberty: A Biography., written by Doreen Rapppaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares.
  • In a 1970's issue of Wonder Woman (DC Comics)(cover), Villainous Sorcerer, Felix Faust turns the Statue of Liberty into a living enemy of the Princess.
  • In the Sinfest webcomic Lady Liberty, a humanized version of the Statue, is the spouse of a similarly humanized Uncle Sam. Owing to their iconic status as embodiments of current America, while Uncle Sam is shown as often worried, affected by financiary woes and bouts of depression, Lady Liberty is shown as a quiet, nurturing and loving spouse, doing her best to help her husband around, but still prone to overreaction.
  • Giannina Braschi's dramatic novel United States of Banana (AmazonCrossing 2011) takes place after the September 11, 2001 attacks, at the Statue of Liberty, where a political prisoner from Puerto Rico is trapped in the dungeon of liberty beneath the 11-pointed star that serves as the base of the Statue.
  • The cover[6] of the fourth volume of the comic series Universal War One depicts a shattered shell of the Statue of Liberty to represent the destruction of Earth by the Colonization Industrial Companies.
  • In the Southern Victory Series book How Few Remain, the Statue of Liberty does not exist in New York City. As relations between the United States and France are poor. This is due to France supporting the Confederate States in the Civil War and the Second Mexican War. However, Liberty Island is taken up by a similar but more grim looking statue call "The Statue of Remembrance". This statue was given to the US from Germany. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Remembrance carries a sword in he right hand and a shield in the left hand. The statue's real name is "Remembrance, holding aloft her bared sword."
  • Nevada Barr's 1999 mystery novel Liberty Falling is set on Liberty Island and Ellis Island, and features deaths caused by falling from the Statue of Liberty.



S.M.S. Sankt Georg commemorative coin showing the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has been depicted on several coins, not only in the USA, but all over the world. One of the most recent silver coins is the 20 euro S.M.S. Sankt Georg commemorative coin. The obverse shows the armored cruiser S.M.S. Sankt Georg sailing into New York Harbor on May 17, 1907; passing right in front of the Statue of Liberty. This was to be the last visit of an Austrian naval vessel in the U.S.A.

The Statue of Liberty was also depicted on the Freedom Tower Silver Dollar coin minted in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Visual arts[edit]

Liberty by contemporary artist Mark Wagner is a large-scale collage composed of 14 individual panels created from 1,121 United States one-dollar bills—a 17-by-six-foot decoupage homage to the Statue of Liberty.[8] George Washington, the face of the dollar bill, is prominently featured throughout the work, engaged in a variety of unexpected, humorous activities taking place from top-to-bottom of the Statue of Liberty. Beyond its humor and craftsmanship, however, Liberty addresses issues of civil liberties, economics, and American identity.[9]

Political symbolism[edit]

Joseph Pennell, That Liberty Shall Not Perish from the Earth (1918)
  • The artist Joseph Pennell created a poster 1918 for the fourth Liberty Loans campaign of 1918, during World War I, showing her headless and torchless while around her the New York area was in flames, under enemy attack by air and by sea. The poster is sometimes referred to on the Web as "That liberty shall not perish" since these are the first words that appear on it.[10][11][12]
  • In 1978, at University of Wisconsin–Madison, Jim Mallon and Leon Varjian of the "Pail and Shovel Party" won election by promising to give campus issues "the seriousness they deserve." In 1979 (and again in 1980), they created their own version of the Planet of the Apes scene by erecting replicas of the torch and the top of the head on the frozen surface of Lake Mendota, creating a fanciful suggestion that the entire statue was standing on the bottom of the lake.[13][14]
  • Many libertarian organizations use images of the statue as their symbol.[15][16][17][18]
  • The Conservative Party of New York uses the statue's torch and flame as its symbol.


Amuse, Inc.'s logo.

As damaged and destroyed[edit]

As a famous landmark, damage and destruction of the statue has been used to symbolize the end of mankind or the destruction of New York City. The table below lists some examples of movies which feature the statue damaged or destroyed.

There have been questions raised about how the statue would hold up for thousands of years, based on her current corrosion patterns. Studies done during various repairs in the past hundred years show that the copper "skin" of the statue herself will hold up, but her insides may not.[22] The copper has aged and chemically changed to create a patina, which on metal is a coating of various chemical compounds such as oxides, carbonates, sulfides, or sulfates formed on the surface during exposure to atmospheric elements. This patina is what gives the statue her sea-green coloring, due to the oxidation of the copper. It also means that the statue's deterioration by seawater and winds is greatly slowed. The only thing that still poses a threat to the patina is acid rain, which has the power to corrode through the surface.

The joints holding the statue together have had some damage by seawater, and have been periodically replaced or repaired. The greatest damage comes in the form of a weakening to the arm holding up the torch, as that is one of the areas of the statue that supports the most weight over a small area.[23] This arm weakness was most recently repaired in the mid 1980s. The torch that the statue holds was also replaced during these repairs, as the original torch was irrevocably damaged from water and snow seeping in through the windows. The old torch now sits in the Statue of Liberty Museum. The stone at Liberty's feet has also needed repair in the past. 50 years after the statue was first erected, in 1937, it was discovered that water was leaking in to the pedestal that the statue stands upon. A giant copper apron (250 ft. tall) was placed over the pedestal to prevent future damage. Overall, the majority of the statue would likely survive the test of time if an apocalyptic event happened on Earth, as it does in many of the following movies.

Year Film was Released Film How it is damaged or destroyed Image
1933 Deluge The statue is surrounded by a tsunami. [3]
1959 The World, the Flesh, and the Devil The statue is seen in an abandoned Manhattan.
1968 Planet of the Apes Thousands of years in the future, the statue is seen half buried in sand. Astronaut Taylor sees it and realizes he has been on earth the whole time. [4]
1970 Beneath the Planet of the Apes The half-buried statue is again seen at the beginning of the film.
1979 Meteor The statue is seen when the meteor fragment enters New York City. Although its destruction is never shown, this scene shows that the statue might have been destroyed by the meteor fragment.
1981 Escape from New York The statue's head is seen decapitated and in the streets of New York City on the poster. However, it is intact in the film. [5]
1983 2019, After the Fall of New York The statue is seen abandoned on Liberty Island. [6]
1985 National Lampoon's European Vacation Griswold family returning to U.S. sees the Statue of Liberty. Clark accidentally opens cockpit door while searching for a bathroom, bumps pilot, and causes plane to hit the statue's torch, damaging it.
1987 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Nuclear Man lifts The Statue of Liberty from her pedestal and hurls her towards Metropolis. Superman catches and re-attaches her to her pedestal. [7]
1989 The Abyss *Special Edition* The statue is nearly threatened by a tsunami, but is ultimately not destroyed. She is incorrectly depicted facing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. [8]
1989 Ghostbusters II The statue is brought to life by the Ghostbusters to help save New York City. After she helps, she is seen lying on the street. At the end of the film, she is rebuilt. [9]
1995 Batman Forever During the opening sequence of the movie, while Batman is chasing Two-Face in the helicopter scene, it crashes into the front of the statue and is heavily damaged. The statue itself is notably different from its real-life counterpart. Having a Gothic design, the name "Gotham" imprinted on the crown, and the torch is instead a rotating light - similar to a lighthouse. [10]
1996 Independence Day The statue is seen after the satellite crashes into the mother ship and the camera points at her tablet to indicate July 4, Independence Day. The statue is also seen being covered in the shadow of an alien destroyer that arrives in New York City. After the aliens destroy New York City, the statue is seen toppled into the river. [11]
1997 The Fifth Element The statue can be briefly spotted as the spacecraft takes off over New York Harbor. The oceans have receded drastically so that the pedestal under the Statue of Liberty, roughly five times as tall as it currently is, is now connected directly to the mainland. [12]
1998 Deep Impact The statue and the island of Manhattan is flooded by a tsunami created from an asteroid impact. The severed head is later seen in the now submerged streets of New York City. [13]
1998 Earthquake in New York In this made-for-TV movie, the torch of the statue collapses during an earthquake.
1999 Aftershock: Earthquake in New York The pedestal collapses during the earthquake, causing the statue to fall either on Liberty Island or into New York Bay, most likely destroying the statue. At the end of the film, it is shown being rebuilt. [14]
1999 Futurama episode "When Aliens Attack" The statue is seen being covered in the shadow of an alien destroyer that arrives in New York City. After the aliens leave Earth, there is a shot of the torch of the statue collapsing, due to it being damaged by the invasion.
2000 The Busy World of Richard Scarry episode "The Big Apple Christmas Caper" The statue is depicted as a pig. A giant magnet rips the crown and torch off. Later, the torch and crown fall into the streets of the city after the villain with the magnet is defeated. In an error of continuity, the torch and crown are seen to have fallen on top of skyscrapers, and the spire of the Chrysler Building is shown to have fallen onto the head of the statue, serving as the "new crown" of the statue. [15]
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence The statue is seen submerged in the ocean up to the bottom of her torch due to global warming. [16]
2004 The Day After Tomorrow The statue is hit by a tsunami and is later shown to have frozen due to global warming. [17]
2004 Godzilla: Final Wars The statue is seen destroyed after Rodon destroys New York City.
2005 Category 7: The End of the World The statue is hit by a tsunami and destroyed by tornadoes due to global warming. The torch is ripped off by a tornado and thrown into the streets of New York City, narrowly killing some main characters (Tommy Tornado and Faith Clavell). [18]
2006 Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut Superman is kicked into the torch of the statue by General Zod, destroying it. The destruction is later reversed when Superman turns back time to repair the damage caused by the three supervillains.
2006 Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York The statue is seen several times in the skyline, but is not destroyed. A fishing boat is blown up by a volcano in the harbor very close to the statue at one point.
2006 Children of Men In an advertisement stating that the whole world was destroyed due to infertility except Britain, the statue is seen being destroyed in a nuclear bomb attack in New York City.
2008 Life After People The documentary and pilot episode of the spinoff series show the statue slowly deteriorating until about 300 years after the human race ceases to exist. After the 300 years (approx.) have passed, the steel connecting the "skin" of Lady Liberty to the main steel frame begin to fail, causing first the torch arm and face fall into the harbor. The narrator suggests it continues on like this until the entire structure has collapse. [19]
2008 Aftermath: Population Zero Similar to Life After People, but is shown deteriorating at a faster rate. Beginning to collapse after 230 years rather than 300 years. Also, large sections of the statue collapse in stages soon after each other, rather than slowly peeling away as in Life After People.
2008 Cloverfield The statue is decapitated by a giant monster and the head is thrown into the streets of New York City. The decapitated statue is later seen from the Brooklyn Bridge.
2008 Disaster Movie One of the movie's posters depicts the statue wearing scuba gear while being hit by a tsunami. This is a parody of The Day After Tomorrow's poster. [20]
2008 NYC: Tornado Terror A tornado forms over the statue, ripping the torch and tablet off.
2008 Lost City Raiders The statue is submerged due to global warming.
2010 Skyline The statue is seen when the alien destroyer abducts people in New York City.
2012 Iron Sky The statue is destroyed by the Nazis when they invade New York.
2013 Oblivion The statue's torch is seen in a canyon 60 years after the destruction of New York. [21]


  1. ^ Willian Poundstone. (1986). Bigger Secrets. Houghton Mifflin
  2. ^ "Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota". 
  3. ^ a b Henry, O., Sixes and Sevens, "The Lady Higher Up." Project Gutenberg text
  4. ^ Marlow, Max (1988). Her Name Will Be Faith. New English Library. ISBN 0-450-50101-9. 
  5. ^ Evans, Bill; Jameson, Marianna (2007). Category 7: The Biggest Storm in History. Tor Books. ISBN 0-7653-5671-6. 
  6. ^ Bajram, Denis UW1 vol 4
  7. ^ "TMNT Adventures #5". TMNT Entity. October 1989. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "The New Moneyed Art". Huffington Post. April 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Thenceforward, and Forever Free. (2012)".  Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art Marquette University
  10. ^ UCSD History Project, Slide: WP-A-29 "Poster: That Liberty Shall Not Perish from the Earth"[1] (512x768 pixel image) Caption: "Poster, "That Liberty Shall Not Perish from the Earth... Buy Liberty Bonds. Fourth Liberty Loan, 1918. The Statue of Liberty has been attacked. The head and arms have been knocked off and lie by the edge of Bedloe's Island as enemy planes fly over New York harbor in a fiery red glow. Joseph Pennell." Citation from the page: "Public domain. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC 20540. LC-USZC4-1347. In Walton Rawls, Wake Up America!, 1988, p. 66."
  11. ^ Royal Albert Museum, "That at Liberty Shall Not Perish From The Earth 1918, Joseph Pennell (1857-1926), U.S.A. 103 x 71 cm"[2]
  12. ^ "Posters American Style: Advice to Americans" (website)
  13. ^ Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota, pictures of the University of Wisconsin prank
  14. ^ Image of Lake Mendota prank
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ New York Liberty website, showing Statue of Liberty in logo. Note that the team's mascot is not the statue, but a dog, named Maddie after Madison Square Garden.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Peterson, I. (Jun 29, 1985). "A Statue of a Different Color". Science News 127 (26): 404. Retrieved Jan 21, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Reclothing the First Lady of Metals". Copper Development Association Inc. Retrieved 2015-01-21.