For the many immigrants who flocked from Europe to New York, the Statue of Liberty was the first image they saw of the USA. The statue was a gift from the French government for the 100th anniversary of America’s Independence.
The statue was designed by a young French sculptor, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who was striving to build a statue like the great Colossus that once stood at the Greek island Rhodes.
The statue’s face was modeled after his mother’s and the story goes that the body was modeled after a prostitute. The crown of Lady Liberty, as the statue is often affectionately called, has seven spikes, symbolizing the Seven Seas across which liberty should be spread. In her left hand she holds a tablet with the Declaration of Independence and in her right hand a torch, symbolizing Enlightenment.
The statue’s steel framework was made by the French engineer Gustave Eiffel, better known as the man behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Thanks to an ingenious construction consisting of copper plates attached to the metal framework, the statue is flexible enough to withstand heavy storms. Large iron bars attach the framework to a central pylon.
The Statue of Liberty was constructed in Paris, France. It took nine years before it was completed in 1884 after which it was sent to the USA in 214 crates. Even before the arrival of the statue, Bartholdi himself had traveled to the United States to discuss the location of the statue with president Ulysses S. Grant. Eventually, it was decided tot erect the statue on a small island in the harbor of New York City. Today, the island is known as Liberty Island.
The biggest and most embarrassing problem was the construction of the pedestal, which had to be paid for by the Americans themselves. The statue’s torch was displayed in Madison Square Park, for six years – from 1876 until 1882 – in an attempt to spark interest and attract funds. But it was only after publisher Joseph Pulitzer published the names of those who donated money for the project that the funds started flowing in. Eventually, the statue was erected ten years late, in 1886, when it was officially inaugurated by president Grover Cleveland.
The Statue of Liberty is 46.5 meters tall (151 ft.), and together with the pedestal it reaches a height of 93 meters (305 ft.). You can take the staircase inside the statue and walk all the way up the 354 steps to the crown, from where you have a nice view over Manhattan’s skyline and over New York City’s harbor.
If you want to enter either the pedestal or the monument’s crown, it is best to reserve tickets well in advance. For more info on how to get tickets to enter the Statue of Liberty, take a look at this website.