Liberty, Statue of, a huge statue on Liberty Island (formerly called Bedloe's Island) in New York harbor. The statue was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, and was financed by the people of France. It has come to be a worldwide symbol of American freedom. Millions of immigrants have been greeted on their arrival in the United States by this figure of Liberty Enlightening the World (the original name). At night the torch of liberty is lit by incandescent lighting equipment and serves as a beacon for ships and planes. Floodlights illuminate the entire figure.
A small bronze scale model is located on an island in the Seine River in Paris.
The statue is of a woman draped in a loose, flowing robe. It stands on a high pedestal in the center of Fort Wood (completed 1811), a fortification in the shape of an 11-point star. Upon the statue's head is a crown from which extend spikes representing the sun's rays. Her left arm cradles a tablet on which is inscribed “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776—Independence Day). Her right arm, raised over her head, holds a torch. A broken shackle lies at her feet. The statue is made of copper, with a steel framework. Its color is light green, caused by the effect of moist air on the copper. The pedestal, composed of a concrete shaft and a granite exterior, rests on a concrete foundation. The total height, from the ground to the top of the torch, is 305 feet (93 m).
|Facts about the Statue of Liberty|
|Height, overall (foundation to torch)||305 ft 1 in (92.99 m)|
|Height of figure (feet to torch)||151 ft 1 in (46.05 m)|
|Weight, overall||225 tons (204 metric tons)|
|Weight of copper skin||100 tons (91 metric tons)|
|Weight of framework||125 tons (113 metric tons)|
|Number of steps in the statue||162|
|Date presented to the United States||July 4, 1884|
|Date dedicated||Oct. 28, 1886|
Liberty Island is reached by ferry from Manhattan and New Jersey. Visitors wishing to climb the statue take an elevator from the ground floor to the base of the statue. From there a stairway leads about 12 stories up to an observation deck inside the statue's crown. Located beneath the statue is the American Museum of Immigration, which contains exhibits depicting the story of immigration to the United States.
A Frenchman, Édouard de Laboulaye, was the first to propose that France contribute a memorial to American independence, commemorating the alliance of the two nations. In 1875 Bartholdi began work on a statue. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who later designed the Eiffel Tower, constructed the steel framework. The statue was built in France and shipped to the United States in 1885.
Meanwhile the pedestal was being constructed on Bedloe's Island, under the supervision of General Charles P. Stone. Funds were raised by public subscription in France for the statue, and in the United States for the pedestal. To aid the fund-raising drive in the United States, Emma Lazarus wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” (1883), which is now inscribed on a bronze tablet at the statue's base. The sonnet, referring to immigrants, begins with the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled and dedicated on October 28, 1886, in a ceremony attended by President Grover Cleveland. It was proclaimed a national monument in 1924; nearby Ellis Island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. The American Museum of Immigration was opened in 1972. The statue underwent a major restoration for its 100th anniversary in 1986.
For color picture, (opening page).