Food and Fresnel

This edition of Food and Fresnel covers the history of the Statue of Liberty. Food and Fresnel is an online travel guide for lighthouse lovers, offering listings of restaurants and places to stay near your favorite harbor lights. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

In tandem with the lighthouse travel photo above, this article’s featured lighthouse needs no introduction. But it is difficult to not give her one anyway.

She is one of the most widely recognized structures in the world and, to millions, a symbol of personal freedom, opportunity and another chance. To others, she heralds a contradiction—the reflection of America’s hypocritical declaration that all men are created equal. She is the icon of the Big Apple, the backdrop for a romantic evening and the inspiration for advertising logos, caricatures and U.S. government paraphernalia. But this month, the Statue of Liberty means something to Food & Fresnel. In her early years, she was also a functioning lighthouse.

Statue of Liberty History

Statue of LibertyDedicated to the U.S. on Oct. 28, 1886 as a gift from France, the structure of the Statue of Liberty is celebrated for the individual elements that shape her entirety, each of which seems to have a life and history of its own. Her crown, for instance, with its seven spikes representing the seven seas and the seven continents, was recently reopened for public tours.

The tablet, which Lady Liberty holds in her left hand, is often quoted for its petition to welcome “y0ur poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” and her torch, which represents enlightenment, has practically become its own icon.

With the Statue of Liberty’s prime maritime location in New York Harbor, standing 305-feet tall, including the pedestal and foundation, it’s no wonder the U.S. government originally viewed the torch as an ideal navigational aid.

At the command of U.S. President Grover Cleveland, the Statue of Liberty and the three acres of Bedloe Island where she stands, would fall under the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Board. After several weeks of complications in getting the right technology in place to support the lighted torch, the structure officially became an operational lighthouse on Nov. 22, 1886. While a number of different lighting methods were tested after the opening of the Statue of Liberty, the Lighthouse Board ultimately used nine electrical arc lamps, which projected light 24 miles out to sea.

Despite Lady Liberty’s prestige, the Lighthouse Board was burdened by having to maintain her as a lighthouse. The Board had a keeper in place who lived with his family and assistant keepers in the northwest part of the island. But there were other issues.

“The problem was that they never considered the Statue of Liberty to be important as a navigational aid,” writes Kraig Anderson of Lighthouse Friends. “Maintenance costs for the beacon were about $10,000 a year, and came out of the Board’s lighthouse budget. Congress was solicited for special funding for the statue, but to no avail.”

In 1901, the War Department, which controlled the eastern part of the island and had police power over the statue, asked the Lighthouse Board to release its jurisdiction over to the Statue of Liberty. In March 1902, the structure was decommissioned as a lighthouse; 30 years later, Lady Liberty would fall under the oversight of the National Park Service and remains there to this day.

Fact or Friction?

In 2000, a topic started to emerge on the Internet as to whether or not Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty, had originally likened the statue to an African woman, wearing a shorter robe that would reveal a shackled ankle.

This claim strained credibility to some, yet it might not be so far-fetched. After all, Bartholdi was a noted advocate for the oppressed working class. In 2000, the National Park Service published a final report on the topic written by former senior anthropologist Rebecca M. Joseph, Ph.D. Learn more. »

Statue of Liberty Ferrys and Tours

In order to tour the Statue of Liberty, you will need a Monument pass, which you can buy from Statue Cruises at There are a limited number of Monument passes each day. You can also buy ferry tickets through Statue Cruises. Ferry prices: Adults $12.00. Seniors $10.00. Children 4-12 $5.00. The ferry picks up visitors in Battery Park, New York City and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Battery Park Restaurants

If the Statue of Liberty represents the multicultural melting pot of the United States, then she is an appropriate companion to the city she overlooks. Of the nation’s high-metropolitan areas, New York City has to be one of the most ethnically diverse. It is also, what Steve “The Tortilla Guy” Frankl, a 25-year veteran of the food industry, New York resident and east coast sales rep for Tumaro’s Tortillas, calls the “hub” for foodies.

Manhattan is home to some of the world’s finest chefs or passionate cooks who took the leap and started their own businesses. With its international appeal and ideal location, it is where many of the globe’s unique and flavorful ingredients can be found to create daring and delicious dishes. No doubt, when planning a trip to NYC, meal planning must be a top priority!

For Picnics and Sit-Down Delis: The Tortilla Guy’s Culinary Tour

tortilla_guy_approved_fullThis month, The Tortilla Guy, who started in the food industry as a butcher and years later went on to work in the area of gourmet foods, offers his tips for favorite delis and fancy food markets.

  • Katz’s Deli. If images of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan come to mind from the hilarious scene (you know which one I’m talking about, “I want what she’s having.”) from “When Harry Met Sally,” then you nailed it. This is exactly where that scene was filmed. Located in the Lower East Side, Katz’s is TB-approved for serving the finest meats since 1888. It is known as “the place to be seen,” boasting ongoing visits by a number of celebrities and politicians. Still the humble vibe remains the same. TG recommends when ordering at the counter, to offer the butcher a couple of bucks while asking, “How’s the pastrami?” to get a sample. 205 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10002. 212-254-2246. Toll free: 1-800-4hotdog. Hours: Sun. 8 a.m. – 10:45 p.m. M, Tues. 8 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. W, Thurs. 8 a.m. – 10:45 p.m., F., Sat. 8 a.m. – 2:45 a.m. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery. Established in 1910, Yonah Schimmel’s offers a variety of knishes, from spinach to sweet potato and mushroom. If you just can’t wait to get to NYC to have some, you can order online. 137 E. Houston St., between 1st and 2nd in the Lower East Side, New York, NY 10002. 212-477-2858. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.

TG also recommends his “New York Food 1/2 Mile,” which spans 71st to 81st Street along Broadway. It is along this stretch in the heart of NYC, where you can find some of the city’s finest culinary delights. Exotic cheeses and wines, meats and seafood, coffee and baked goods. Below is a list of some stores The Tortilla Guy suggests. Map it »

O’Lunney’s and More International Dining

Because there are countless restaurants in Manhattan, it can be difficult to recommend just one place to go for sushi, Italian or a great steak dinner. But for a fantastic Irish pub, there is one place I recommend: O’Lunney’s.

Located in Times Square, O’Lunney’s opened in 1959 and continues to serve English and Irish favorites, even though the current executive chef Raul Vela is from Peru! The menu includes bangers and mash ($10.95), Shepherds pie ($13.95), fish and chips ($13.95) and corned beef and cabbage ($13.95). As for the Guiness and other draughts, they’re priced at $5 – $6. It’s a popular spot for theater-goers and a hip bar crowd. I love it there and hope to go back sometime.

O’Lunney’s. 145 W. 45th Street (between Broadway and 6th Ave.), New York, NY 10036. Reservations: 212-840-6688.

More International Dining

Presidential Eats

Also, check out Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street in the financial district. It was a stop-over for George Washington when he bade farewell to his officers. We talk about it in “All the President’s Foods.” A fun diversion if you’re on a preservation tour. Read more. »

New York City Hotels

Marriott Marquis

Personally, I love Times Square. While I’ve have not yet made time to see a Broadway show, my loss I’m sure, I just love the hustle and bustle of the area. It is the ulimate media center with accessibility to some of the most entertaining restaurants and bars. That is why I recommend the Marriott Marquis, where the views are animated and just walking through the high-rise, it’s easy to feel like you’re in the center of things! Those views are probably why I have not seen a Broadway show—it’s easy to catch a glimpse of the long lines for tickets when you’re staying in Times Square.

Marriott Marquis. 1535 Broadway. New York, NY 10036. 212-398-1900.

Other Points of Interest

NYC Tourist. In New York City, there’s something for everyone. You can tailor your trip to be fun for the entire family, a preservation and museum visit, a culinary tour, seeing live bands or going to the theater, catching a baseball game or standing outside of the ABC studios during a live taping of “Good Morning America.” For planning your trip, I recommend clicking through NYC Tourist (dot com) to get you started in the right direction. Enjoy and safe travels!