Statue of Liberty: An American Symbol

Name: Statue of Liberty (United States of America).
Location: In Liberty Island, New York City, New York.
Area: 12 acres

The Statue of Liberty


For more than a century, the dreams of millions of men and women all over the world have been headed by a fearless female face, a crown of seven permanent frozen spikes, a raised arm holding a torch... This was the first image of America for the 13 million immigrants who landed between 1892 and 1954 in New York Harbor.

The components belonged to a large statue nestled a few years before in a place where the fate wanted it to be: The Ellis Island, landing and reception point of the immigrants. They made the Statue of Liberty the great symbol of the American Dream, so many times frustrated, but despite everything it maintains its huge power of fascination.


A Gift from the French

The most popular lady of America was born in France and had at first, a not so good reception in her new land. In fact, she would have never cross the Atlantic if it were not for the enthusiasm of the French writer Edouard de Laboulaye, a huge admirer of the history and institutions of the United States, a country which he would never visit in his lifetime. For Laboulaye, the victory of the Union during the American Civil War represented the triumph of the reason against the atrocities carried out by the land owners from the South, a concept that would get stronger after the murder of former President and leader of the Union, Abraham Lincoln.

After all of those events, it started to appear in the mind of the French writer, the idea of a commemorative monument that would represent the friendly relationship between France and the United States. Since the beginning, he got support from his friend Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor whose solid education and taste for monumental works, would make of him the perfect artist to build the Statue.

Sketched for the first time in the summer of 1865, the project, however, didn't took shape until 1871. Near the first centenary of the Independence of the United States, to which France had contributed so much, Laboulaye and Bartholdi considered that it was the perfect time to establish an alliance between both peoples, through the building of a symbol of liberty for which they have struggled together.

Bartholdi traveled to the United States and decided that the adequate place for the monument was the Bedloe Island, in southern Manhattan, where the starred bastions from Fort Wood arose. Although, he didn't find a great enthusiasm from the authorities to whom he presented the project, he was allowed to constitute American committees of the Franco-American Union.

Back to France, he started working in the design of the monument, which he finally devised as a huge statue: "Liberty Enlightening The World." From his pencil, started to appear the face of a woman, dressed up with a Roman toga and lifting with her right arm the flame of liberty, while the broken chains of tyranny lie at her bare feet. The date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776 is written in the law book she is holding with her left arm.

Miss Liberty Traveling

In 1875, the Franco-American committee, headed by Laboulaye, initiated the popular subscription aimed to raise funds for the monument, so that Bartholdi could start working. The enormous dimensions of the statue (151 feet to the end of the torch) created multiple problems. Bartholdi decided to use copper sheets, lighter and more tractable than bronze, built on a metallic structure whose design was merit of Gustave Eiffel. During several years, Bartholdi worked very hard, leading a team of well-trained workers, until the spring of 1883, when he could announce that the statue was ready to be assembled: first in Paris, with the aim to show it to the French people who had paid for it and, later in United States, where the Franco-American committee had achieved the Congress acceptation of the gift, voting the authorization and the funds for the statue to be installed in the place chosen by Bartholdi. That same year, Edouard Laboulaye died, without seeing the work finished. The statue was assembled in his home city, in Paris for a couple of months before being finally translated to New York Harbor in June 1885.

Meanwhile, a new popular subscription, this time from the American citizens, helped to fund the pedestal, a granite and concrete bulk of 90 feet high designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. The intervention of press tycoon, Joseph Pulitzer, who mobilized the public opinion through his newspaper, was decisive for the success of the subscription. In fact, it could be said that only since that moment the American people, unmoved until then, started to "adopt" Miss Liberty, friendly name that they would use to call the statue. The inauguration date, October 28, 1886, was a fabulous and huge popular party where, in front of thousands of people, president Grover Cleveland officially accepted the delayed birthday gift from the French. Miss Liberty was finally at home!

Sources: Wikipedia

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