New York Attractions: The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is an important symbol of freedom – the first site millions of immigrants saw when they arrived in America. The Statue has been a National Monument since 1924 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Her history began when a group of influential Frenchmen decided to present the US with a monument commemorating American independence. It’s “real” name is “Liberty Enlightening the World” (La Liberté éclairant le monde in French).
Sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi designed the her, which took nine years to build. The first parts of the Statue of Liberty to be built were the right arm (bearing the torch) and the head. The face was modeled after the face of Bartholdi’s mother. The head and arm were exhibited publicly in France and the US to raise money for further construction. Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (who would later design the Eiffel Tower in Paris) played a part in it’s history – he designed a special support structure that allows the Statue of Liberty to move slightly in the wind, to keep it from cracking.
Work was completed in 1884, and it was formally presented to the US Ambassador to France on July 4th. It was then dismantled, and 350 pieces were packed into 214 crates and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to New York.
Construction of the pedestal was funded by US citizens. The pedestal was completed in April 1886, and reassembly of the Statue began. Its foundation and pedestal were set up so the statue would face southeast, as if “greeting” ships sailing into the New York harbor. The official dedication ceremony for the Statue of Liberty took place on Thursday, October 28, 1886, presided over by US President Grover Cleveland.
Fun Facts and Information
The Statue of Liberty represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. In her right hand she holds a torch; in her left hand is a tablet inscribed with the date of America’s independence, JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (1776). There are seven rays of the crown, which have been interpreted to symbolize either the seven continents or the seven oceans of the world.
From the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch, the Statue of Liberty is 305′ 1″ (93 meters) high. The height of the monument itself, from the top of the pedestal base to the tip of the torch, is 151′, 1″ (46.5 meters).
The total weight of is 450,000 pounds. 60,000 pounds of copper were used for the exterior covering of the exterior, which is just 3/32″ thick (less than the thickness of two pennies!). The Statue of Liberty was originally a dark copper color, but as its skin oxidized from exposure to the surrounding seawater, the color gradually changed to green.
The face of is more than eight feet tall. The Statue’s face is featured on one of the US Post Office’s “forever” stamps – but the image is actually of the replica that is in front of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!
Towards the end of 2011, it will be closed for about a year for the installation of a second staircase.
Fun Facts About the Inscription
So what about the inscription? The sonnet “The New Colossus” is inscribed at the base. The most famous lines of the poem, “Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” actually come near the end. “The New Colossus” was written in 1883 by Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus, as part of an auction to help raise funds to build a pedestal. Lazarus died just four years after writing the sonnet. In 1903, she was commemorated by a bronze plaque was inscribed with her words and mounted inside the pedestal. When it was renovated in 1984-1986, the plaque was moved to the base in the museum.
If you want to see an aerial view of the Statue of Liberty, book your tour today!