History Of The
Statue Of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of
the fact that all men were born free.
A whopping $12,376,000 is spent on her every year and an
estimated 5,370,015 people visit her annually. She celebrated
her hundredth birthday on October 28, 1986. Her right arm is
12.8 meters long; her waist a whopping 10.8 meters; she has a
cute 1.37 meter long nose and a 2.44 meter long index finger.
Wonder who she is? Well, she was given to the people of America
by the people of France. This last clue would have given away
the identity of the ‘her’ being written about here. Yes, these
attributes are of the Statue of Liberty. The statue is symbolic
of the friendship between the French and the Americans during
the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty
has come to symbolize freedom, democracy and friendship.
The 93 meter tall statue stands on Liberty Island in New York
Harbor. The place consists of two small islands, Liberty Island
and Ellis Island. Her formal name is ‘Liberty Enlightening the
World’, and she holds aloft a burning torch in her right hand
The date July 4, 1776, inscribed on a
tablet she holds in her left hand is when the US declared its
independence. She wears a spiked crown – seven spikes
representing the seven oceans and continents of the world. The
New Colossus by American poet Emma Lazarus is inscribed
in bronze at the base of the statue.
Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was
commissioned to sculpt this statue, with the target year of
installation being 1876, to commemorate the centennial of the
American Declaration of Independence. Work was shared between the
two countries. However, America took charge of building the pedestal
and France took charge of the actual statue.
Lack of financial resources and other practical difficulties slowed
the building. So the date of installation was postponed. In fact,
many fund raising events were held to collect money to complete the
project. The services of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the
Eiffel Tower) were enlisted to design the massive framework of the
Statue of Liberty
In July 1884, France completed the statue and it arrived at the New
York harbor in June 1885. For transportation, the statue was
dismantled into 300 individual pieces. It took four months to be
reassembled on the new pedestal. The pedestal itself is a whopping
46.94 meters tall. October 28, 1886 saw the statue being dedicated
to America by US president Grover Cleveland to the cheering of
thousands of onlookers. France’s centennial gift to America had
arrived – ten years late.
At the beginning, the statue was placed on a granite pedestal in the
courtyard of Fort Wood. Till 1901 the responsibility for the
operation of the Statue of Liberty lay with the United States
Lighthouse Board. Later the responsibility was passed on to the War
Department. It was proclaimed a national monument in 1924 and its
administration was the responsibility of the National Park Service.
In 1956, Bedloe’s island, where the statue is located, was renamed
Liberty Island. In 1965 Ellis Island was also attached to the Statue
of Liberty National Monument. The year 1982 saw massive efforts at
fund raising for restoration of the Statue of Liberty, which had by
now seen enough wear and tear.
In 1984, at the start of the Statue’s restoration, the United
Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site.
The restored Statue of Liberty was re-opened to the public in 1986,
during the Liberty Weekend celebrating her centennial.
Ferries from New York take visitors to Liberty Island. Once there,
visitors can reach an observation area at the top of the pedestal.
They have options of either riding an elevator or climbing the 192
steps. A full climb, 354 steps, takes visitors to the crown. The
panoramic view from there is worth climbing the stairs. Ellis
Island, which was once a gateway to the United States (especially
for immigrants) now functions as a gateway for information on the
history of the United States.