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Statue of Liberty


 

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic attraction located on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor. She is situated atop a 65 feet eleven-point star-shaped foundation and an 89 feet stone pedestal. She started as a gift named “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” from the people of France to represent friendship. This 305 feet-tall statue is now “a national treasure and one of the most recognizable figures in the world.” Currently, Miss Liberty is “a symbol of freedom, inspiration, and hope” to many.

 

In 1865, around the end of American Civil War, French historian Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that France create a monumental gift for the United States to celebrate their achievements of building their democracy. The sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was in charge of building the sculpture. Their goal was to design the sculpture for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. Bartholdi envisioned a colossal structure titled “Liberty Enlightening the World.” The French and the Americans worked together to build the statue and the pedestal. It would become a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

 

The sculptor Bartholdi designed the statue and even incorporated much symbolism. Miss Liberty’s crown is formed by many spikes which represent the light and the sun’s rays shining over the world. She is holding onto a tablet on her left hand that is inscribed with the date “July 4, 1776” in Roman numerals, which commemorates the adopted date of the Declaration of Independence. There is a broken shackle and chains by the statue’s foot to symbolize the end of slavery. A fun fact is that Bartholdi created Lady Liberty’s face using his mother’s face as a model. He “hammered large copper sheets to create the statue’s skin’” (History.com Editors). Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, designer of Paris’ Eiffel Tower, collaborated with Bartholdi to build the skeleton with iron pylon and steel.

 

In 1874, Bartholdi imagined creating the statue’s torch using solid copper sheets so that it would shine brightly in the daylight. This method does not require the torch to be lit throughout the day. The torch’s design was modified many times before the version we recognize today. In 1886, two rows of portholes were removed from the copper coverings at the bottom of the torch so it could be illuminated from the inside. In 1892, the upper row of portholes was replaced with an 18-inch belt of glass and an octagonal pyramidal skylight was replaced with red, white, and yellow glass. In 1916, the copper sheets were removed and replaced with amber-colored cathedral glass. In 1931, two holes were cut into the floor of the balcony near the flame of the torch to install a new lighting system. Lady Liberty’s torch has evolved throughout the years.

 

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was not always colored green? In fact, her skin only changed in the early 20th century due to oxidation from being exposed to rain, wind, and sun over time. Although usually open to the public, it was once closed in 1984 as the statue had a massive restoration for its centennial celebration (History.com Editors). After the attacks of terrorism on September 11, 2001, Liberty Island was closed for 100 days. The Statue of Liberty did not reopen until August 2004, around 3 years later. By July 2009, the visitors were allowed to go upto the statue’s crown. The status and appearance of Lady Liberty have changed over the years, however its symbol and importance remained.

 

If you are interested to learn more, you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum. This curated museum will inform the audience of the Statue’s history. You will also be able to see how the original torch looks and learn of the origins of Lady Liberty’s creation. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is in charge of the preservation of the great monument. They also organized restorations of the statue and created a museum related to her. The organization’s goal is to continue protecting the iconic symbol and ensure its longevity for many generations.

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