About The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor, in Manhattan, New York City. The statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi 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 of freedom, 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: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. 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 New York’s Madison Square Park 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 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.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue, including the pedestal and base, was closed for a year until October 28, 2012, so that a secondary staircase and other safety features could be installed; Liberty Island remained open. However, one day after the reopening, Liberty Island closed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy; the statue and island opened again on July 4, 2013. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916. Source by Wikipedia

 

History of The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty National Monument officially celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986. The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty’s symbolism has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as this international friendship.

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion, to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France and it was agreed upon that the American people were to build the pedestal, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly here in the United States. However, lack of funds was a problem on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were among the methods used to raise funds. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds.

Meanwhile in France, Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue’s copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. Back in America, fund raising for the pedestal was going particularly slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer (noted for the Pulitzer Prize) opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper, “The World” to support the fund raising effort. Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds. Pulitzer’s campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.

Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and pedestal construction was finished in April of 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June of 1885 on board the French frigate “Isere” which transported the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months time. On October 28th 1886, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.

The story of the Statue of Liberty and her island has been one of change. The Statue was placed upon a granite pedestal inside the courtyard of the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood (which had been completed for the War of 1812.) The United States Lighthouse Board had responsibility for the operation of the Statue of Liberty until 1901. After 1901, the care and operation of the Statue was placed under the War Department. A Presidential Proclamation declared Fort Wood (and the Statue of Liberty within it) a National Monument on October 15th, 1924 and the monument’s boundary was set at the outer edge of Fort Wood. In 1933, the care and administration of the National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service. On September 7, 1937, jurisdiction was enlarged to encompass all of Bedloe’s Island and in 1956, the island’s name was changed to Liberty Island. On May 11, 1965, Ellis Island was also transferred to the National Park Service and became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In May of 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., to date the most successful public-private partnership in American history. In 1984, at the start of the Statue’s restoration, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site. On July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend, which celebrated her centennial. -Source by Statue of Liberty

 

Facts

  • The Statue of Liberty was once called Liberty Enlightening the World.
  • France presented the statue as a gift to America, marking the friendship between the countries.
  • Total overall height from the base of the pedestal foundation to the tip of the torch is 305 feet, 6 inches
  • Height of the Statue from her heel to the top of her head is 111 feet, 6 inches
  • The face on the Statue of Liberty measures more than 8 feet tall
  • There are 154 steps from the pedestal to the head of the Statue of Liberty
  • The Statue has a 35-foot waistline
  • There are seven rays on her crown, one for each of the seven continents, each measuring up to 9 feet in length and weighing as much as 150 pounds
  • At the feet of the Statue lie broken shackles of oppression and tyranny
  • During the restoration completed in 1986, the new torch was carefully covered with thin sheets of 24k gold
  • The statue’s feet is surrounded with broken shackles, which is unseen by many from the ground due to the pedestal’s height. It symbolizes Lady Liberty’s freedom from oppression and control.
  • The Statue was not always green. The copper that the exterior is made of was much shinier, with the characteristic copper color. The greenish-blue hue is a result of the natural oxidation of the metal, which also serves as a layer of protection against further deterioration.
  • It took about 30 years for the Statue of Liberty to change from copper brown to the greenish-blue hue it is today. Despite harsh weather conditions at Liberty Island, the copper that protects the statue has only weathered 0.005 of an inch.
  • The thickness of the copper is the same thickness as putting 2 US pennies together, 3/32ths of an inch or 2.38 mm.
  • Back in 1906, the US congress once thought that the patina was a sign of deterioration. They voted to spend around $62,000 to give the Statue of Liberty a fresh coat of varnish.
  • Between 1886 and 1902, the statue functioned as a lighthouse, the first in US to be powered by electricity. The statue’s torch could be seen approximately 24 miles out at sea.
  • 300 different types of hammers shaped the 62,000 pounds (28,100 kg) of copper that was used in the construction of the statue.
  • In 1984, the statue was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Statue of Liberty receives an average of 5 million visitors a year.
  • Following the 2001, September 11th attacks, the statue remained closed for almost 3 years, until 3rd August 2004.
  • The torch the Lady Liberty holds now is not the original torch. The original one was removed due to water leakage and it is now on display in the monument’s museum. The statue was modeled after Charlotte Bartholdi, the sculptor’s mother. -Source by National Geographic