Friday, November 4, 2016

Facts about The Statue of Liberty

 The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States,  was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland in 1886.

Grover Cleveland

Originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was proposed by the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. Its framework of gigantic steel supports was designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the latter famous for his design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe’s Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York Harbor. In June 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by President Cleveland and attended by numerous French and American dignitaries.
Liberty Island (aka: Bedloe's Island)

On the pedestal was inscribed “The New Colossus,” a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” In 1892, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe’s Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of “Lady Liberty.” In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument, and in 1956 Bedloe’s Island was renamed Liberty Island. The statue underwent a major restoration in the 1980s.
Emma Lazarus

Additional Facts about The Statue of Liberty
The head of the statue was displayed at the World's Fair in Paris in 1878.


The robed female figure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom.


Libertas (Liberty)

She holds a torch and tablet upon which is inscribed the date of American Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776).

From the ground to the top of the torch the statue measures 93 meters and weighs 204 metric tons.
Lady Liberty wears a size 879 shoe.

She has a 35-foot waistline.

Visitors have to climb 354 stairs to reach the statue’s crown.

The Crown of The Statue of Liberty

There are 25 windows in the crown.

Approximately 4 million people visit the statue each year. In comparison, over 6 million  people visit The Eiffel Tower.

The seven spikes on the crown represent the seven oceans and the seven continents of the world, indicating the universal concept of liberty.

The statue has an iron infrastructure and copper exterior which has turned green due to oxidation.

Although it’s a sign of damage, the patina (green coating) also acts as a form of protection from further deterioration.

green patina

Edouard de Laboulaye provided the idea for the statue and Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi designed it.

Edouard de Laboulaye

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi 

Laboulaye proposed that a great monument should be given as a gift from France to the United States as a celebration of both the union’s victory in the American Revolution, and the abolition of slavery.

Laboulaye also hoped the gift of the statue would inspire French people to fight for their own democracy in the face of a repressive monarchy under Napoleon III.

Napoleon III

Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower was also behind the design for Liberty’s
‘spine’; four iron columns supporting a metal framework that holds the copper skin which is a mere 3/32ths of an inch thick.

Gustave Eiffel

300 different types of hammers were used to create the copper structure.

The statue's face was said to be modeled on the sculptor's mother, Charlotte.

The statue’s original torch was replaced in 1984 by a new copper torch covered in 24k gold leaf.



Although you cannot see Lady Liberty’s feet clearly, she is in fact standing among a broken shackle and chains with her right foot raised depicting her moving forward away from oppression and slavery.

Despite the positive meaning of the statue (American independence and the abolition of slavery) it African-Americans saw the statue as an ironic image of America; professing to be a country of freedom and justice for everyone regardless of race, despite racism and discrimination continuing to exist.

The Statue of Liberty became the symbol of immigration during the second half of the 19th century, as over 9 million immigrants came to the United States, with the statue often being the first thing they saw when arriving by boat.

The statue’s most famous cinematic appearance was in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes where it is seen half buried in sand.

It is also destroyed in the films Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.

The cost of the statue was funded by contributions from both the French and the Americans. In 1885, a New York newspaper entitled World announced that $102,000 had been raised from donors, and that 80 per cent of this total had been received in sums of less than one dollar.

Groups in Boston and Philadelphia offered to pay the full cost of the construction of the statue in return for its relocation.

When the statue was first erected in 1886 it was the tallest iron structure ever built.

In 1984, the statue was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In high winds of 50 mph, Lady Liberty can sway by up to 3 inches while her torch can move 5 inches.

Lady Liberty is thought to have been hit by around 600 bolts of lightning every year since she was built. A photographer captured this for the first time in 2010.

Two people have committed suicide by jumping off the statue, one in 1929 and the other in 1932, while many others have jumped and survived.

There are various replicas of the statue, including a smaller version in Paris, and one on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.

Statue of Liberty, Nevada

Statue of Liberty, Paris

In 1944, the lights in the crown flashed “dot-dot-dot-dash” which in the Morse code means V for Victory in Europe.


Andy Warhol painted “Statue of Liberty” as part of his Pop Art series in the 1960s. It is estimated to be worth in excess of $35 million.



The statue functioned as a lighthouse for 16 years (1886-1902), lighting a distance of up to 24 miles away.

The statue will celebrate its 132nd birthday in October, 2017.

Miss America, the comic book character, was granted her powers by the statue.

After the terrorist attacks of September 1, 2001, the statue was closed for security reasons, with the pedestal reopening in 2004, and the statue in 2009, but only a limited number of visitors are able to go up to the crown.

The statue was again closed in 2012 due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, with the island off limits to the public. The statue is reopening to visitors on Independence Day, July 4, 2013.

The statue sustained minor damage in 1916 when German saboteurs set off an explosion during World War One. The torch-bearing arm suffered the most damage, with repair works costing $100,000. The stairs in the torch were then closed to the public for safety reasons and have remained closed ever since. No-one has been able to visit the torch since then.

Private boats are not allowed to dock at Liberty and Ellis islands; therefore, the only way on is via the ferry system.

The statue's 300 copper pieces were transported to America in 214 crates on the French ship  Isere, which almost sank in stormy seas.

Liberty Island is federal property within the territory of the State of New York, even though it is closer to New Jersey..

In 1982, it was discovered that the head had been installed two feet off center.

Two images of the statue appear on the  U.S. $10 bill.



The cost of building the statue and pedestal amounted to over $500,000, over $10 million in today’s money.

1 comment:

  1. -An inspiring edifice, and a triumph of human creativity and cooperation.

    ReplyDelete