Learn about the great American landmark the Statue of Liberty.
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On a chilly October day in 1886, a large crowd and more than 300 boats gathered at the New York Harbor to witness an event that’d been years in the making.
Included in the crown were New York’s Mayor and Governor, and the President of the United States Grover Cleveland. The special occasion was the dedication of a huge monument named “Liberty” enlightening the world; more commonly know today as The Statue of Liberty. It is come to be one of the most recognizable icons of freedom to Americans and all people around the world, especially those arriving from war torn lands.
The monument was a gift from France to the United States in recognition of the friendship that was established during the American Revolution.
Sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, was commissioned to design a statue to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. Bartholdi personally selected the New York Harbor as the site of the statue and used his own mother as a model for the face.
In a joint effort, the American people were to build a pedestal and the French people were responsible for the statue and its assembly in the United States. Creating such a large sculptor was as tremendous undertaking that took years to complete. Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to contend with structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture.
The designer of the Eiffel Tower, Alexandre Gustave was commissioned to design the massive iron framework that allowed that statue’s copper skin to be built independently yet stand up right.
Back in America, fund raising was going slowly, so publisher Joseph Pulitzer opened up his newspaper’s editorial pages to support the effort. The newspaper magnet-sniped—get both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were contend to rely on the wealthy to provide the funds. Pulitzer’s critical campaign was successful in motivating the American people to donate to the cause.
Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885 and construction was finished in April 1886. The statue itself arrived in New York in June of 1885. In transit, the statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. Lady Liberty was reassembled on her new pedestal in four months time.
The 151 foot copper statue is a magnificent sight. Holding an uplifted torch lighting the way to the democratic nation described by Abraham Lincoln as, “of the people, by the people; and for the people”.
The flame is made in copper and dipped in gold. In her crown are seven spikes that symbolized the seven seas and continents around the world. Broken shackles at her feet represent freedom from oppression and the tyranny. The law tablet in her left hand conveys the declaration of independence and the American ideal that all men are created equal. She is dressed in a flowing cloak called a ‘palla’ fastened by a clasp on her left shoulder.
The Roman goddess ‘Libertas’, who was worshipped by freed slaves wore a similar outfit. Engraved on a plaque inside the statue is a sonnet called “The New Colossus” written by the American poet Emily Lazarus.