The Statue of Liberty National Monument has stood proudly in New York Harbor for almost 120 years (her official 120th birthday will be on October 28, 2006).
The statue was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the last 120 years, the Statue of Liberty has become an internationally-recognized symbol of freedom and democracy.
Creating Miss Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, known officially as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and funded completely through donations from the French people.
After Bartholdi finalized the design in miniature, the statue itself was created using wooden molds, a copper shell, and an iron structure designed by Gustave Eiffel, who later built the Eiffel Tower.
On July 4, 1884, the 151-foot-tall, 225-ton Statue of Liberty was delivered to the American Ambassador in Paris. In order to transport Lady Liberty to New York, the statue was dismantled into 300 pieces and packed into 214 wooden crates.
Putting the Statue of Liberty on a Pedestal
Unfortunately, a lack of funds in the United States delayed the building of the pedestal. Fund-raising efforts stalled until Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of “The World” newspaper and noted for the Pulitzer Prize, decided to use his newspaper to push Americans to donate. The Statue was finally re-assembled on her new pedestal and dedicated on October 28, 1886.
Miss Liberty’s Measurements
The Statue of Liberty is just over 305 feet high from the ground to the tip of her torch. There are 354 steps inside the statue and its pedestal and 25 viewing windows in the crown.
There are seven rays on Liberty's crown, symbolizing the seven seas and seven continents. Miss Liberty holds a tablet in her left hand that reads "July 4, 1776" (in Roman numerals).
Restoration of the Statue of Liberty
In 1984, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site and a massive restoration effort began. On July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend, which celebrated her centennial.
The Statue of Liberty was closed after the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and did not re-open until August 3, 2004.
The New Colossus
A sonnet by poet Emma Lazarus is inscribed in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The sonnet, titled “The New Colossus”, reads:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
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!"
by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883
Some Statue of Liberty Gift Ideas
Statue of Liberty, Ken Burns' America DVD-- Statue of Liberty documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns. Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons.
Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia -- by Barry Moreno. Probably the only complete A-to-Z reference on Lady Liberty. A must for any New York history buff.
Statue of Liberty (Images of America) -- by Barry Moreno. Another masterful work on the Statue's history, accompanied by fantastic images.
Statue of Liberty 6 Inch Replica -- Approved by the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation. This replica is made of bonded marble and is hand painted.
Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Pegi Deitz Shea -- beautifully illustrated book that's great for schoolchildren.
Statue of Liberty Old World Christmas Ornament -- decorate your tree with an old timey Christmas ornament of Lady Liberty.