Almost everyone who’s been in a movie theater over the last half-century is familiar with the great iconic image that closes the film Planet of the Apes: a loinclothed Charlton Heston falling to his knees as he comes face to face with a shattered Statue of Liberty poking out of the sand and realizes that the “planet of the apes” is, in fact, his own—or it was. In fact the shattering of Lady Liberty recurs throughout popular culture, as the most easily recognizable shorthand for civilizational ruin: most recently, in the eco-apocalyptic film The Day After Tomorrow, the Statue of Liberty gets flash-frozen in ice after sudden catastrophic climate change apparently brought on (warning: plot spoiler) by a speech from Dick Cheney. But you can go back beyond that to an 1887 edition of Life and a story called “The Next Morning,” which was illustrated by a pen-and-ink drawing of a headless Statue of Liberty with...


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