Once a beacon of hope for immigrants crossing the Atlantic, the iconic Statue of Liberty is now at risk. Rising sea levels and more extreme weather events threaten Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

Beavers and Statue of Liberty
Rebecca Beavers was a resource adviser with the National Park Service’s Sandy Incident Management Team in 2012.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy flooded 75 percent of the island, and it remained closed to visitors for nine months.

While the statue and pedestal did not sustain damage, electrical systems, walkways and docks all needed to be rebuilt.

Since the storm, more than $100 million has been devoted to restoring services at Liberty and nearby Ellis Island, with a focus on designs that are more resilient to climate change.

For example, the electrical systems have been raised nearly 20 feet above sea level, and more saltwater-tolerant trees will be used in the landscaping.

Rebecca Beavers is the National Park Service coordinator for coastal adaptation to climate change. She says maintaining vulnerable landmarks is a high priority.

Beavers: “We recognize, with impacts such as Superstorm Sandy and others, those are opportunities to adapt to climate change.”

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Beavers says efficient and resilient designs will give our national treasures a better of chance of withstanding the impacts of climate change.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Beavers.

More Resources
National Park Service: Climate change adaptation
Statue of Liberty and Venice among sites at risk from climate change, says UN
World heritage and tourism in a changing climate

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Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...