Statue Of Liberty Reopens For First Time Since Hurricane Sandy

Statue of LIberty in New York Harbor
Public Domain

One of the most iconic symbols of American freedom is set to reopen just in time to celebrate the nation’s birthday. The Statue of Liberty, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy on October 29 of last year, will welcome visitors for the first time since that day with the arrival of a morning ferry at 8:45 a.m.

When Sandy made landfall in New York City last fall, the storm surge hit Liberty Island. While the statue itself weathered the storm quite nicely, its surrounding support structures were not so lucky. Docks leading to the island were severely damaged, as were the electrical and phone systems. Several of the walkways had to be repaired and the entire site was littered with debris. Fortunately, none of the historical areas were affected by the storm, which made it easier to conduct repairs.

In the aftermath of the storm both Liberty Island and Ellis Island closed to visitors. After both sites were assessed for damage the repair crews set a goal of having the Statue of Liberty reopened by the Fourth of July. They were able to achieve that goal, although Ellis Island remains closed.

The National Park Service says pre-sales for the reopening have been brisk, so visitors should expect large crowds and delays.

Welcome back Lady Liberty. We’re glad you could make the celebration.

Video Of The Day: San Diego Fireworks Fail


Millions of Americans went back to work today after the Independence Day holiday yesterday, and many began tweeting about the July Fourth fireworks display in San Diego. Apparently, due to a malfunction, instead of a 20-minute show, ALL the fireworks went off at one time, lighting up the sky for only a few seconds. YouTube user Andrew92106 uploaded today’s Video of the Day, showing off the short but sweet spectacular.

Hoping for a longer holiday? At least tomorrow is Friday. Keep the holiday mode going and share your favorite holiday travel videos in the comments below.

Earliest Map Naming America Discovered

map A copy of the earliest map that names America has been discovered.

The map was created by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 based on explorers’ accounts. Only four copies are known to exist, but a fifth has just been discovered inside a 19th century book at the Ludwig Maximilian University library in Munich.

This map is slightly different than the others and appears to be a second edition.

Waldseemüller named the vaguely drawn land after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. His map is important because he shows America as being separate from Asia. Until this time the common assumption was that it was part of Asia.

The map is actually a globe gore, designed to be cut out and pasted onto a globe. It never was, and how it ended up in a book published three centuries later is a mystery.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, the library has put the map online.

Image courtesy Badische Landesbibliothek.

Vicksburg 1863: America’s most important July 4th (besides 1776)

VicksburgThe Fourth of July has always been an important day in the U.S. It marks the day in 1776 when the colonies issued the Declaration of Independence from the British Empire. A new nation was born, at least for a little while.

In 1861 that nation was torn apart by a bloody Civil War that saw its turning point on another fourth of July, that of 1863. On that day the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.

The Union army had been trying to take it since the beginning of the war. The fortified city was the key to the Mississippi River. If the North could control the river it would cut the Confederacy in half, leaving Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and the Indian Territory cut off from the rest of the rebellious nation. The Confederate west was a major source of supplies and men, especially Texas, which had overland access to Mexico and the only reliable contact with the outside world thanks to the Union navy’s effective blockade.

It took General Grant many months and thousands of lives to take the city. He managed to capture Jackson, Mississippi, an important railroad connection, and then surround Vicksburg on the landward side. Then he launched two massive assaults on the fortifications, only to lose hundreds of men.

Grant was not one to repeat mistakes, except for the mistake of drinking too much. He decided not to waste any more men and settled in for a siege. He kept up a constant bombardment on the city as the civilians and rebel soldiers dug in. Eventually the defenders were reduced to eating rats and dogs. One local newspaper ran out of paper and issued the news on wallpaper.

%Gallery-127185%On July 4, 1863, the Confederates had had enough. Their commander John C. Pemberton surrendered, figuring the Union troops would be more merciful on that day than any other. The final and much smaller Confederate stronghold on the river, Port Hudson, surrendered on July 9. Robert E. Lee had lost the battle of Gettysburg on July 3. For the North, winning the war was now only a matter of time.

As the telegraph lines sent the news across the North, there were huge Fourth of July celebrations. There weren’t many in the South, though, and in fact July 4th wasn’t celebrated in Vicksburg again until World War Two made the locals realize that the USA wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Vicksburg National Military Park is one of the nation’s most impressive battlefields. Parts of the city’s six-and-a-half miles of defenses can still be seen and reconstructions make you feel like you’re back in the nineteenth century. There are living history demonstrations every day as well as visits to the USS Cairo, an ironclad Union gunboat that’s been raised from the water.

So if you’re not sure where to go this Fourth of July, you might consider taking a road trip to either Philadelphia, where this country was formed, or Vicksburg, where this country was saved.

[Photo of Vicksburg graves courtesy user Matito via Flickr]

Gear suggestions for holiday weekend trips outdoors

patagonia lightweight travel pack outdoor gear gadlingSummer is in full-swing and with the Independence Day weekend right around the corner, people are planningfor trips to the great outdoors. From hiking to camping, getting into nature is a great way to enjoy the holiday and unplug from your everyday life. However, if you’re going to do it right, you need to have the proper gear. Last year, we set you up with the ultimate camping gear guide. All of those great products are still staples in our collections, but we’ve discovered some new accessories that will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Whether you’re spending July 4th in a tent, on the trail or simply on a picnic in the park, you’ll want to check out our latest outdoor gear suggestions.Packs

If you’ve packed many of your supplies in your daypack, it makes it heavy when it comes time to use it on a hike. Rather than unpack all of your gear and risk losing or forgetting it, it’s easier to have a second pack with you that you can take with you out on the trail. The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack folds into itself when you’re not using it and carries plenty of provisions when you’re ready for a day away from camp. It’s a bit pricey at $79, but it’s durable, sturdier than other packable bags and holds 26L when you’re ready to attack the day.

If all you need is the bare essentials when you go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, then the Black Diamond Flash Pack is perfect for keeping things light. It holds only 9L but it’s hydration compatible, has enough pockets to keep you organized and its low profile will prevent you from snagging a strap on a tree as you barrel through the bush.

Tools

outdoor gear gerber metolius clip folder knife gadlingWhen you need a knife larger than anything on your multitool, you’ll want the Gerber Metolious Clip Folder. It’s big enough to handle tough jobs but small enough to fit in your pocket or clip to your belt while not scaring away anybody you might encounter in the wild. Whether you need to cut some rope or field dress a fresh kill, this knife is a reasonably-priced option for outdoorsmen of any experience level.

We mentioned the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern in last year’s gear guide, but they’ve supersized things with the new Titan Lantern. It’s 250-lumen LED system will illuminate your entire campsite, making cooking a breeze long after the sun has set. Never underestimate the importance of a strong, reliable light.

Apparel

Venturing outdoors requires you to pack layers. If you’re like me, you hate carrying that extra weight in your pack. Thankfully, when it comes to preparing for rain, at least, you can now pack a jacket and not even notice it. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco Wind Shell Jacket is the lightest jacket we’ve ever encountered, yet still manages to be durable, well-made and have strong seals around all of the zippers. It might not pack into one of its own pockets like some other lightweight jackets, but it packs easily and does the job of coats five times its weight.

outdoor gear keen kanyon gadlingShould you pack hiking shoes or sandals? Why choose (or deal with lugging them both around) when you can have two in one with the Keen Kanyon? They dry quickly, are ultralight and provide a closed toe for optimal protection when you’re using them as hikers. The bungee lacing allows for an optimal fit without having laces dangling off of your shoes when you’re out on the trail.

If you prefer a more closed shoe, then the Teva Churn is a must. The breathable mesh still allows you to fully submerge them in water when dragging your canoe onto shore, but you can trust that they’ll dry quicker than most hiking shoes. The fold-down heel also allows you to wear the Churn as a slip-on when you’re back in camp.

No matter what you’re getting into this weekend – and the rest of the summer, for that matter – make sure that your gear is in good shape. If not, replace it with our suggestions and you’ll be set for a holiday away from work and immersed in nature.

What’s your favorite outdoor gear? Share your suggestions in the comments.