Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

You can ask any person living on planet Earth a simple question: what is the symbol of the USA? The answer will most probably be "the Statue of Liberty". This is the very monument at New York Harbor that greeted all of the coming vessels and welcomed the numerous immigrants dreaming of starting a new life in America. This is the statue we often see in US-made movies and on numerous souvenirs. By the way it is not commonly known that the full name of the statue is Liberty Enlightening the World. The 93-meter-high statue (including the pedestal) was a gift from the people of France to the people of the USA for the 100th anniversary of independence, which is now towering some 3 km from the southern shores of Manhattan. The famous statue was the reason that in 1956 Bedloe's Island was officially renamed to Liberty Island.

The idea to create the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of independence and democracy came in 1865 and was conceived by Édouard René de Laboulaye, a French scientist and the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, together with French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The historians still dispute the identity of the model after which the statue's image was created. There are two major opinions. Some believe that Bartholdi immortalized Isabella Boyer, the widow of Isaac Singer, the founder of Singer company. Others tend to think that the image resembles sculptor's mother, Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi. It still remains a mystery, which hypothesis is true. In order to create the steel framework for the constructions the famous engineer Gustave Eiffel was invited (his work was later continued by Maurice Koechlin). Due to the instability of the years after the War in France the statue project works started only in the early 1870s. According to the idea of the French architects, the present had to be ready for the 100th anniversary of the date the US Declaration of Independence was signed (i. e. on July 4, 1876). However, the fundraising campaign took longer than expected. In 1878 only the head of the statue was ready. It was on display at the World's Fair of 1878 in Paris where as a result of a lottery some 250,000 francs were raised for the construction of the statue. The copper arm with the torch in its hand was made in 1876 and up to 1882 it was displayed at Madison Square.

The funds raised for the construction of the monument came from various sources, for instance, in France these were donations, different amusement venues and lotteries, gaining 2.25 million francs in total. In the US fundraising auctions, theatrical events artistic exhibitions and even boxing rounds were organized. The complete statue was officially presented in Paris to the US ambassador in France, Levi Morton, on July 4, 1884. The French government agreed to pay for the shipping of the statue to New York, and in January of 1885 the statue was disassembled and shipped overseas. The assembly lasted for some 4 months, the pedestal construction took some time to be built as well (it was paid by the American side). A considerable contribution to its construction was made by Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of the New York World newspaper. He started a fundraising campaign for the completion of the project with more than 120,000 people participating (80% of which donated less than a dollar). The inauguration ceremony was lead by US president Grover Cleveland and took place on October 28, 1886. Thus a gift for the 100th anniversary of American revolution was 10 years late.

The statue is a stainless steel frame (its weight is some 125 tons). On top of it there are stamped copper sheets (made with wooden hammers). The height of the statue from the top of the pedestal to the torch is 46 meters. 354 steps lead to the statue's crown, while the seven rays from the halo, according to a Western tradition, symbolize the seven seas and seven continents. You can visit the crown of the statue, but it’s better to buy tickets online 3 months in advance. One foot of the statue is placed on top of the broken shackles, which stands for the gaining of freedom. The plaque in her left hand reads in Roman digits JULY IV MDCCLXXVI, which stands for July 4, 1776, the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The Statue of Liberty is often compared to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the world. Poet Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet called The New Colossus, which raised the most considerable sum of money for the construction of the pedestal and in 1903 was engraved on the plaque decorating it. Inside the pedestal you will see a display telling about the history of the statue. In 1986 the renovated Statue of Liberty (the works cost some $100 million) was newly opened for visitors. The corroded torch was moved to the main entrance and replaced with a new one covered with 24-carat gold.

Address: Liberty Island
How to reach: entrance to the national park of Liberty Island is free, access is only available via Statue Cruises ferries departing daily (except for December 25) from two piers, from Battery Park in Manhattan and from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The ferry tickets are available for payment. It is recommended to book a ticket before hand on the official web. New York Pass can be used in order to travel by ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.