Lady Liberty

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor.  Liberty Enlightening the World, was the brainchild of Edouard de Laboulaye and a gift from France to honor our mutual belief in democracy and freedom, as well as our alliance during the American Revolution.

Liberty Face
The Statue of Liberty’s face waiting to be installed. Liberty Island, New York (1885). Photo courtesy of the National Park Service (nps.gov)

The statue is located on Liberty Island in New York harbor.  She stands 305 feet 6 inches tall (with pedestal) and weighs a whopping 225 tons.  Her exterior is made of thin sheets (their thickness equal to only 2 pennies!) of copper and her glowing torch is covered in 24k gold.  Inside, a steep spiral staircase will take you from ground to crown. French sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi fashioned Lady Liberty’s somber, resolute face after his mother.

Laden with symbolism, the 7 rays on the Statue of Liberty’s crown represent the 7 continents, and the 25 windows represent earth’s 25 gemstones.  Named after the Roman goddess, Libertas, the Statue of Liberty continues to stand as a beacon of hope and freedom.  Following is the famous poem engraved on her pedestal.

The New Colossus
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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus, 1883

If you’d like a closer look, click on this link to access several of Lady Liberty’s webcams:  Liberty_Cam

Fun French Fact:  Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel was hired in 1879, after the chief engineer on the Statue of Liberty project died unexpectedly.  Eiffel created the internal iron structure of the statue.  His ingenious design led to his subsequent work on the Eiffel tower.

Fun Liberty Fact: The Statue of Liberty served as a lighthouse from 1886 to 1902.

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