The History Of The Statue Of Liberty

Learn the history of the Statue of Liberty - from it's humble beginnings in France to it's unveiling on New York harbor.

The Statue of Liberty has stood as a welcoming symbol to millions of immigrants to the United States for more than 100 years. At 151 feet in height she is one of the largest statues in the world. She is probably also the most recognised statue in the world.

Lady Liberty was conceived way back in 1865 by a group of French scholars and statesman who were enjoying a dinner meal together in Glatigny, France. These men were ardent admirers of the American system, especially its Constitution. It was suggested that a gift be sent to the American people, by way of giving homage to that nation as well as marking its centennial celebration. There was, however, an ulterior motive. The host of the evening, Professor Edourd de Laboulaye, was keen to get American backing for his political goal: the establishment of the Third Republic in France.

Once of those who was impressed by the idea of a statue-like gift to the Americans was famed sculptor August Bartholdi. Bartholdi envisioned a woman in flowing robes holding a flaming torch in her raised hand. Under Emperor Napoleon, however, it wasn't politically expedient to make a gift to the Americans. So the plan got bogged in red tape until Napoleon was deposed in 1871. With the plan back in vogue, Bartholdi made a trip to America in search of the ideal location for his proposed statue. He found it on a little island on New York Bay callede Bedloe's Island. Since 1956 it has been known as Liberty Island. Then the excited Frenchman headed home to put chisel to stone. His creation soon came to incorporate the symbols of it's maker's personal life views. Bartholdi was a Freemason and Lady Liberty came to take on some of their symbols, including the book, the torch in her left hand and the seven pointed diadem around her head.



On July 4, 1884 the Statue of liberty was presented to the American Ambassador in Paris. But, still it had to be transported to its new home in New York harbor. To achieve the services of designer Gustave Eiffel were employed. Eiffel would later become famous for another creation - the Eiffel Tower. He constructed an iron framework to house the copper clothing and skin of Lady Liberty. The Statue itself was dismantled and packed into 200 crates for it's trip to New York.

On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled on Bedloe's Island. Over the next 100 years it became perhaps that most well known landmark on earth. By 1984, however, the ravages of weather, time and public inspection had left their mark. The Statue was closed down so that repairs could be carried out. The repairs were planned for a reopening to coincide with the Bicentennial Celebration - July 4, 1976. Millions of dollars were invested in the project as the Lady was enshrouded in a massive shroud for two years. The new Lady Liberty was a great improvement, even incorporating the tallest hydraulic elevator in North America, reaching a height of 30 meters as it takes visitors in a glass walled car to the top of the pedestal. From here tourists can climb a staircase to the head of the Statue.

The Statue of Liberty is, indeed, a much cherished gift. If only the ideals that she stands for, life, liberty and peace, were a reality in her homeland, then her existence would have real meaning.

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