The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most familiar sights in the world. Today we celebrate the arrival of Lady Liberty at New York Harbor. Inspired by the Union victory of America’s War Between the States in 1865, anti-slave activist Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a statue be built to commemorate the friendship between France and the United States. In 1871, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi began designing the statue. On October 28, 1886, La Liberté éclairant le monde was officially unveiled and roughly one million New Yorkers were witness to the removal of the French flag covering her face.
“The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States. The copper statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, built by Gustave Eiffel, and dedicated on October 28, 1886, was a gift to the United States from the people of France.
The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States, and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. He may have been minded to honor the Union victory in the American Civil War and the end of slavery. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the site and build the pedestal. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions.
The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.” – Wikipedia
- The Statue of Liberty weighs a staggering 225 tons (450,000 pounds)
- There are 154 steps from the pedestal to the head of the Statue of Liberty
- The tablet in her hand measures 23’ 7” tall by 13’7” wide
- The French ship “Isere” transported the Statue of Liberty’s 300 copper pieces packed in 214 crates to America. Although the ship nearly sank in rough seas, it arrived in New York on June 17, 1885. The Statue’s parts remained unassembled for nearly a year until the pedestal was completed in 1886.
- The Statue of Liberty is covered in 300 sheets of copper which weighed roughly 80 tons, which were cut into odd pieces, then hammered to 3/32 of an inch thick – a process called repoussé.
- At the time of her construction, Lady Liberty was the tallest iron structure ever built. 
What most people don’t know is that our beloved monument was a joint project. France would build the monument and America would build the pedestal. Due to political and financial difficulties, the statue would take nine years to build and another two years to completion upon the pedestal.
The Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of freedom for millions of immigrants who passed through New York Harbor in search of liberty from tyranny, land to raise a family, and the opportunity to live beyond subsistence. Long may she stand and forever may she give hope to her citizens and the world beyond.
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