Statue Of Liberty
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Lady Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they arrived in the New World and continues to greet millions of tourists from around the world each year. While the Statue of Liberty is as much as an enduring symbol of New York City as the Empire State Building, Broadway or Central Park, it’s also one of America’s primary symbols of freedom.
Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion, to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France and it was agreed upon that the American people were to build the pedestal, which was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly here in the United States. However, lack of funds was a problem on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were among the methods used to raise funds. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds. Meanwhile in France, Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such as colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue’s copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. Back in America, fund raising for the pedestal was going particularly slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer (noted for the Pulitzer Prize) opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper, “The World” to support the fund raising effort. Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds. Pulitzer’s campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.
Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and pedestal construction was finished in April of 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June of 1885 on board the French frigate “Isere” which transported the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months time. On October 28th 1886, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.
The Statue was placed upon a granite pedestal inside the courtyard of the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood (which had been completed for the War of 1812.) The United States Lighthouse Board had responsibility for the operation of the Statue of Liberty until 1901. After 1901, the care and operation of the Statue was placed under the War Department. A Presidential Proclamation declared Fort Wood (and the Statue of Liberty within it) a National Monument on October 15th, 1924 and the monument’s boundary was set at the outer edge of Fort Wood. In 1933, the care and administration of the National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service. On September 8, 1937, jurisdiction was enlarged to encompass all of Bedloe’s Island and in 1956, the island’s name was changed to Liberty Island. On May 11, 1965, Ellis Island was also transferred to the National Park Service and became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
When Bartholdi designed the statue, it is said that he implied certain points with her. The 25 windows that are located in the crown are represent the 25 natural gemstones found on earth, the toga represents the ancient Roman Empire, the torch represents enlightenment, and the chains under her foot represent liberty crushing the chains of slavery. There is two ways of thoughts on what the rays of her crown mean however. One thought is that they represent the 7 oceans of the world, while the other is that they represent the 7 continents. There is no telling which Bartholdi had in mind during design.
The year 1986 brought the finish of a two year renovation of Lady Liberty to celebrate her 100th anniversary. The renovation included replacement of the more than 1,600 wrought iron bonds with stainless steel. These bonds are what hold the skin to the structure. The other major renovation was that of replacing the torch. The replaced the old copper torch with a gold leaf plated torch. They also installed an elevator into the pedestal for people who do not wish to climb the stairs. The entire renovation cost nearly $87 million. The old torch was then placed inside the pedestal where there is a museum for historical exhibits of the statue.
Every year 4.2million people visit the statue on Liberty Island. They wait, on average, 3 hours to climb the 354 step spiral staircase to the observation deck located in the crown. It is noted, however, that you can take the elevator to the top of the pedestal if you do not want to wait or climb the stair. And finally the best stat that I have found about our own Liberty Lady is that by a formula to figure shoe size, she would be wearing a size 879.
Head thickness from ear to ear 10′ 0″
Women’s shoe size (formula based)879