National Park Service
Date: September 21, 2022
Liberty Island, N.Y. – The National Park Service has awarded a $22 million construction contract to make repairs to the historic fort that serves as the foundation for the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal. Funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the project will make drainage and safety improvements that will help preserve the structure and enhance accessibility for visitors.
“The Great American Outdoors Act funding will allow us to build upon the great work that has been completed restoring the fort’s stone walls,” said John Piltzecker, Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island superintendent. “Fort Wood has weathered two centuries of exposure to the elements in the middle of New York Harbor; this project will help ensure that it will continue to endure as the iconic star-shaped fort at the base of the Statue of Liberty.”
Fort Wood is an eleven-pointed, star-shaped fort built between 1808 and 1811 on Bedloe’s (now Liberty) Island as part of New York’s harbor defense system. In 1877 the military use of the fort was suspended in preparation for the arrival of the Statue of Liberty from France. Between 1884 and 1886, the statue’s pedestal, designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt, was built within the fort’s courtyard. The statue was erected in 1886 and managed by the U.S. Lighthouse Board and the War Department. Management of Liberty Island was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933.
The GAOA project will provide for long-term protection of the terreplein and vertical surfaces of the fort. The terreplein is the horizontal structure that connects the exterior walls of the fort to the base of the statue’s pedestal. The work will focus on deterioration and drainage issues caused by age, the marine environment and heavy use. The exterior levels of the fort will be waterproofed to halt or prevent leaks and water infiltration. In addition, 50,000 square feet of walking surface will be upgraded to improve drainage and aesthetics, as well as visitor access and safety.
In 2021, the Statue of Liberty National Monument had 1.6 million park visitors who spent an estimated $101 million in local gateway regions. These expenditures supported a total of 1,110 jobs, $60.5 million in labor income, $98.3 million in value-added, and $149 million in economic output in local economies.
GAOA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and other construction funding sources are part of a concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.