The Statue of Liberty in New York is arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. But where does it come from and what makes it so special?
The well-known symbol of freedom is green today. That’s a fact. But how can that be, since the statue was originally a different color? The statue consists of an iron frame around which a layer of copper has been placed. Usually this copper layer is brownish. Due to wind and weather, which the statue is exposed to every day without further protection, the outer layer is weathered and has got a green color over the years due to the rust.
As a gift from France, the statue was inaugurated on October 28, 1886 at New York Harbor in front of thousands of spectators by then US President Grover Cleveland. The lady’s full name is called “Liberty Enlightening the World”. The statue was originally planned to be unveiled in 1876, on the 100th anniversary of American independence. However, as the financing of the project did not go as planned, this was postponed for 10 years.
When Lady Liberty was completed in France, her head was presented in Paris in 1878. After the exhibition, the entire statue was dismantled into around 350 parts so that it could be stowed in 214 transport boxes. These boxes were transported across the Atlantic to New York on a cargo ship called the Isere. Once there, the individual parts were reassembled within a few months.
The statue belongs to the American state of New York, but is located 2.5 kilometers from the shores of Manhattan and therefore actually in the waters of New Jersey. There used to be a fortress on the island and the island was called “Bedloe Island”. It wasn’t until 78 years, in 1956, after the statue was unveiled, that the island got its current name. Today it is officially known as Liberty Island.
Several people have lived on the small island for more than 200 years. The last neighbor of the green lady was David Luchsinger, who lived together with his wife on the island in a small house. He worked as the caretaker of the statue. After the hurricane “Sandy” swept over the island and destroyed the couple’s home, David and his wife moved away from the island in 2014. Since then “Lady Liberty” has lived alone on the island. Every year it is visited by more than four million people who come to the island by boats and ferries to see the statue up close.
Since the statue has no protection from storms, it also suffered from hurricane “Sandy”. It was unable to be visited for a while, but has since been repaired. When a strong wind hits the statue, it can rock almost three inches in all directions. Your torch sometimes even wobbles back and forth by 12 centimeters.
7. Role model
The Roman goddess Libertas was taken as a model for the statue. She is the goddess of freedom. The face of “Lady Liberty” is said to be inspired by the facial features of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s mother, the French artist who designed the Statue of Liberty.
The statue, including the base on which it stands, is 93 meters high. In her left hand the lady in the green robe holds a blackboard. On it is the date of American independence. In her right hand she holds up a torch. A crown can be seen on her head. This has seven points, which stand for the seven continents of the earth. If you look closely, you can see broken chains on their feet.
If you look closely at the statue, you will notice that its right foot is raised. Broken chains can be seen around her feet. These symbolize the liberation and independence of the USA.
Originally the torch was supposed to serve as a lighthouse and show arriving ships the right way. However, after scientists failed to get the light from the torch bright enough, they eventually gave up. Since the right arm in which the torch is held was damaged in an explosives attack, tourists are not allowed to enter the torch.
In the pedestal on which the statue stands there is a museum. If you register beforehand, you can even go into the statue and go up to the crown.
The Lady Liberty isn’t the only statue that looks like this. Because she has some sister statues in different countries. For example, there is a synthetic resin replica of her in Alsace. The statue is only 12 meters high and, unlike its model in New York, was completed in just nine months. It stands in Colmar, the birthplace of the designer Bartholdi, and has been welcoming visitors to the city entrance since 2004.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States and has been painted by many artists. It was also often seen in many films, but it was partly destroyed there.