Statue of Liberty in New York City
</ref> | designation4_type = Individual The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.
Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor, politician, and anti-slavery activist Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and in New York's Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe's Island. The statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue, including the pedestal and base, closed beginning on October 29, 2011 for up to a year, so that a secondary staircase and other safety features can be installed; Liberty Island remains open. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.
Design and construction
The origin of the Statue of Liberty project is generally traced to a comment made by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye in mid-1865. In after-dinner conversation at his home near Versailles, Laboulaye, an ardent supporter of the Union in the American Civil War, stated: "If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial to their independence, I should think it only natural if it were built by united effort—a common work of both our nations."
Laboulaye's comment was not intended as a proposal, but it inspired a young sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, who was present at the dinner. In the war, Napoleon III was captured and deposed. Bartholdi's home province of Alsace was lost to the Prussians, and a more liberal republic was installed in France.
Arriving at New York Harbor, Bartholdi focused on Bedloe's Island as a site for the statue, struck by the fact that vessels arriving in New York had to sail past it. He was delighted to learn that the island was owned by the United States government—it had been ceded by the New York State Legislature in 1800 for harbor defense. It was thus, as he put it in a letter to Laboulaye: "land common to all the states." As well as meeting many influential New Yorkers, Bartholdi visited President Ulysses S. Grant, who assured him that it would not be difficult to obtain the site for the statue. Bartholdi crossed the United States twice by rail, and met many Americans whom he felt would be sympathetic to the project. He also worked on a number of sculptures designed to bolster French patriotism after the defeat by the Prussians. One of these was the Lion of Belfort, a monumental sculpture carved in sandstone below the fortress of Belfort, which during the war had resisted a Prussian siege for over three months. The defiant lion, 73 ft long and half that in height, displays an emotional quality characteristic of Romanticism, which Bartholdi would later bring to the Statue of Liberty.
Design, style, and symbolism
Bartholdi and Laboulaye considered how best to express the idea of American liberty. A figure of Liberty was also depicted on the Great Seal of France.
Crawford's statue was designed in the early 1850s. It was originally to be crowned with a pileus, the cap given to emancipated slaves in ancient Rome. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, a Southerner who would later serve as president of the Confederate States of America, was concerned that the pileus would be taken as an abolitionist symbol. He ordered that it be changed to a helmet. Delacroix's figure wears a pileus, and Bartholdi at first considered placing one on his figure as well. Instead, he used a diadem, or crown, to top its head. They evoke the sun, the seven seas, and the seven continents, and represent another means, besides the torch, whereby Liberty enlightens the world. Bartholdi was initially uncertain of what to place in Liberty's left hand; he settled on a tabula ansata, a keystone-shaped tablet Though Bartholdi greatly admired the United States Constitution, he chose to inscribe "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI" on the tablet, thus associating the date of the country's Declaration of Independence with the concept of liberty.
Consultations with the metalwork foundry Gaget, Gauthier & Co. led Bartholdi to conclude that the skin should be made of copper sheets, beaten to shape by the repoussé method. An advantage of this choice was that the entire statue would be light for its volume—the copper need be only .094 in thick. He decided on a height of 151 ft for the statue, double that of Italy's and the German statue of Arminius, both made with the same method. Bartholdi interested a former teacher of his, architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, in the project. Viollet-le-Duc planned to construct a brick pier within the statue, to which the skin would be anchored.
Announcement and early work
In 1875, France was enjoying improved political stability and a recovering postwar economy. Growing interest in the upcoming Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia led Laboulaye to decide it was time to seek public support. In September 1875, he announced the project and the formation of the Franco-American Union as its fundraising arm. With the announcement, the statue was given a name, Liberty Enlightening the World. The announcement provoked a generally favorable reaction in France, though many Frenchmen resented the United States for not coming to their aid during the war with Prussia.
Despite its initial focus on the elites, the Union was successful in raising funds from across French society. Schoolchildren and ordinary citizens gave, as did 181 French municipalities. Laboulaye's political allies supported the call, as did descendants of the French contingent in the American Revolutionary War. Less idealistically, contributions came from those who hoped for American support in the French attempt to build the Panama Canal. The firm of Japy Frères, copper merchants, donated all the copper needed to build the statue, a gift valued at 64,000 francs (about $16,000 at the time or the equivalent of $323,000 today). After the exhibition closed, the arm was transported to New York, where it remained on display in Madison Square Park for several years before it was returned to France to join the rest of the statue. Committees to raise money to pay for the foundation and pedestal were formed in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. The New York group eventually took on most of the responsibility for American fundraising and is often referred to as the "American Committee". One of its members was 19-year-old Theodore Roosevelt, the future governor of New York and president of the United States. The French government authorized a lottery; among the prizes were valuable silver plate and a terracotta model of the statue. By the end of 1879, about 250,000 francs had been raised.
The head and arm had been built with assistance from Viollet-le-Duc, who fell ill in 1879. He soon died, leaving no indication of how he intended to transition from the copper skin to his proposed masonry pier. The following year, Bartholdi was able to obtain the services of the innovative designer and builder Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. There was criticism both of Bartholdi's statue and of the fact that the gift required Americans to foot the bill for the pedestal. In the years following the Civil War, most Americans preferred realistic artworks depicting heroes and events from the nation's history, rather than allegorical works like the Liberty statue. Faced with these criticisms, the American committees took little action for several years. The committee hired former army General Charles Pomeroy Stone to oversee the construction work. Construction on the 15 ft deep foundation began in 1883, and the pedestal's cornerstone was laid in 1884. In Hunt's original conception, the pedestal was to have been made of solid granite. Financial concerns again forced him to revise his plans; the final design called for poured concrete walls, up to 20 ft thick, faced with granite blocks.
Fundraising for the statue had begun in 1882. The committee organized a large number of money-raising events. As part of one such effort, an auction of art and manuscripts, poet Emma Lazarus was asked to donate an original work. She initially declined, stating she could not write a poem about a statue. At the time, she was also involved in aiding refugees to New York who had fled anti-Semitic pogroms in eastern Europe. These refugees were forced to live in conditions that the wealthy Lazarus had never experienced. She saw a way to express her empathy for these refugees in terms of the statue. The resulting sonnet, "The New Colossus", including the iconic lines "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", is uniquely identified with the Statue of Liberty and is inscribed on a plaque in the museum in the base.
Even with these efforts, fundraising lagged. Grover Cleveland, the governor of New York, vetoed a bill to provide $50,000 for the statue project in 1884. An attempt the next year to have Congress provide $100,000, sufficient to complete the project, failed when Democratic representatives would not agree to the appropriation. The New York committee, with only $3,000 in the bank, suspended work on the pedestal. With the project in jeopardy, groups from other American cities, including Boston and Philadelphia, offered to pay the full cost of erecting the statue in return for relocating it. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the World, a New York newspaper, announced a drive to raise $100,000 (the equivalent of $2.3 million today). One donor gave "five cents as a poor office boy's mite toward the Pedestal Fund." A group of children sent a dollar as "the money we saved to go to the circus with." Another dollar was given by a "lonely and very aged woman." Once this was done, the sections of skin were carefully attached. Due to the width of the pedestal, it was not possible to erect scaffolding, and workers dangled from the armature by ropes while installing the skin sections. Nevertheless, no one died during the construction work. Bartholdi had planned to put floodlights on the torch's balcony to illuminate it; a week before the dedication, the Army Corps of Engineers vetoed the proposal, fearing that ships' pilots passing the statue would be blinded. Instead, Bartholdi cut portholes in the torch (which was covered with gold leaf) and placed the lights inside them. A power plant was installed on the island to light the torch and for other electrical needs.
A nautical parade began at 12:45 p.m., and President Cleveland embarked on a yacht that took him across the harbor to Bedloe's Island for the dedication. De Lesseps made the first speech, on behalf of the French committee, followed by the chairman of the New York committee, Senator William M. Evarts. A French flag draped across the statue's face was to be lowered to unveil the statue at the close of Evarts's speech, but Bartholdi mistook a pause as the conclusion and let the flag fall prematurely. The ensuing cheers put an end to Evarts's address.
No members of the general public were permitted on the island during the ceremonies, which were reserved entirely for dignitaries. The only females granted access were Bartholdi's wife and de Lesseps's granddaughter; officials stated that they feared women might be injured in the crush of people. The restriction offended area suffragists, who chartered a boat and got as close as they could to the island. The group's leaders made speeches applauding the embodiment of Liberty as a woman and advocating women's right to vote. A scheduled fireworks display was postponed until November 1 because of poor weather.
Shortly after the dedication, the Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue's torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation "in reality":
"Liberty enlightening the world," indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the "liberty" of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the "liberty" of this country "enlightening the world," or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.
History since dedication
Lighthouse Board and War Department (1886–1933)
When the torch was illuminated on the evening of the statue's dedication, it produced only a faint gleam, barely visible from Manhattan. The World characterized it as "more like a glowworm than a beacon." In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt, once a member of the New York committee, ordered the statue's transfer to the War Department, as it had proved useless as a lighthouse. A unit of the Army Signal Corps was stationed on Bedloe's Island until 1923, after which military police remained there while the island was under military jurisdiction.
The statue rapidly became a landmark. Many immigrants who entered through New York saw it as a welcoming sight. Oral histories of immigrants record their feelings of exhilaration on first viewing the Statue of Liberty. One immigrant who arrived from Greece recalled,
I saw the Statue of Liberty. And I said to myself, "Lady, you're such a beautiful! You opened your arms and you get all the foreigners here. Give me a chance to prove that I am worth it, to do something, to be someone in America." And always that statue was on my mind.
Originally, the statue was a dull copper color, but shortly after 1900 a green patina, also called verdigris, caused by the oxidation of the copper skin, began to spread. As early as 1902 it was mentioned in the press; by 1906 it had entirely covered the statue. In the belief that the patina was evidence of corrosion, Congress authorized $62,800 to paint the statue both inside and out. There was considerable public protest against the proposed exterior painting. The Army Corps of Engineers studied the patina for any ill effects to the statue and concluded that it protected the skin, "softened the outlines of the Statue and made it beautiful." The statue was painted only on the inside. The Corps of Engineers also installed an elevator to take visitors from the base to the top of the pedestal. The statue was closed to the public from May until December 1938.
During World War II, the statue remained open to visitors, although it was not illuminated at night due to wartime blackouts. It was lit briefly on December 31, 1943, and on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when its lights flashed "dot-dot-dot-dash," the Morse code for V, for victory. New, powerful lighting was installed in 1944–1945, and beginning on V-E Day, the statue was once again illuminated after sunset. The lighting was for only a few hours each evening, and it was not until 1957 that the statue was illuminated every night, all night. In 1946, the interior of the statue within reach of visitors was coated with a special plastic so that graffiti could be washed away. Through its fundraising arm, the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., the group raised more than $350 million in donations. The Statue of Liberty was one of the earliest beneficiaries of a cause marketing campaign. A 1983 promotion advertised that for each purchase made with an American Express card, the company would contribute one cent to the renovation of the statue. The campaign generated contributions of $1.7 million to the restoration project.
In 1984, the statue was closed to the public for the duration of the renovation. Workers erected scaffolding that obscured the statue from view. Liquid nitrogen was used to remove layers of paint that had been applied to the interior of the copper skin over decades, leaving two layers of coal tar, originally applied to plug leaks and prevent corrosion. Blasting with baking soda powder removed the tar without further damaging the copper. The restorers' work was hampered by the asbestos-based substance that Bartholdi had used (ineffectively, as inspections showed) to prevent galvanic corrosion. Workers within the statue had to wear protective gear, dubbed "moon suits", with self-contained breathing circuits. Larger holes in the copper skin were repaired, and new copper was added where necessary. The replacement skin was taken from a copper rooftop at Bell Labs, which had a patina that closely resembled the statue's; in exchange, the laboratory was provided some of the old copper skin for testing. The torch, found to have been leaking water since the 1916 alterations, was replaced with an exact replica of Bartholdi's unaltered torch. Consideration was given to replacing the arm and shoulder; the National Park Service insisted that they be repaired instead.
The entire armature was replaced. The puddled iron bars used by Eiffel were gradually removed. The new bars that attach to the pylon are made of low-carbon corrosion-resistant stainless steel. The bars that now hold the staples next to the skin are made of Ferralium, an alloy that bends slightly and returns to its original shape as the statue moves. To prevent the ray and arm making contact, the ray was realigned by several degrees. The lighting was again replaced—night-time illumination now comes from metal halide lamps that send beams of light to particular parts of the pedestal or statue, showing off various details. Access to the pedestal, which had been through a nondescript entrance built in the 1960s, was renovated to create a wide opening framed by a set of monumental bronze doors with designs symbolic of the renovation. A modern elevator was installed, allowing handicapped access to the observation area of the pedestal. An emergency elevator was installed within the statue, reaching up to the level of the shoulder.
July 3–6, 1986, was designated "Liberty Weekend", marking the centennial of the statue and its reopening. President Reagan presided over the rededication, with French President François Mitterrand in attendance. July 4 saw a reprise of Operation Sail,
Following the September 11 attacks, the statue and Liberty Island were immediately closed to the public. The island reopened at the end of 2001, while the pedestal and statue remained off-limits. The pedestal reopened in August 2004, but the National Park Service announced that visitors could not safely be given access to the statue due to the difficulty of evacuation in an emergency. The Park Service adhered to that position through the remainder of the Bush administration. New York Congressman Anthony D. Weiner made the statue's reopening a personal crusade. On May 17, 2009, President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced that as a "special gift" to America, the statue would be reopened to the public as of July 4, but that only a limited number of people would be permitted to ascend to the crown each day.
Entrance to the Statue of Liberty National Monument is free, but there is a charge for the ferry service that all visitors must use, as private boats may not dock at the island. A concession was granted in 2007 to Statue Cruises to operate the transportation and ticketing facilities, replacing Circle Line, which had operated the service since 1953. The ferries, which depart from Liberty State Park in Jersey City and Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, also stop at Ellis Island, making a combined trip possible. All ferry riders are subject to security screening, similar to airport procedures, prior to boarding. The statue, pedestal, and base are presently closed for renovation work. Those wishing to climb the staircase within the statue to the crown purchase a special ticket, which may be reserved up to a year in advance. A total of 240 people per day are permitted to ascend: ten per group, three groups per hour. Climbers may bring only medication and cameras—lockers are provided for other items—and must undergo a second security screening.
Inscriptions, plaques, and dedications
There are several plaques and dedicatory tablets on or near the Statue of Liberty. A plaque on the copper just under the figure in front declares that it is a colossal statue representing Liberty, designed by Bartholdi and built by the Paris firm of Gaget, Gauthier et Cie (Cie is the French abbreviation analogous to Co.). A presentation tablet, also bearing Bartholdi's name, declares the statue to be a gift from the people of the Republic of France that honors "the Alliance of the two Nations in achieving the Independence of the United States of America and attests their abiding friendship."
A group of statues stands at the western end of the island, honoring those closely associated with the Statue of Liberty. Two Americans—Pulitzer and Lazarus—and three Frenchmen—Bartholdi, Laboulaye, and Eiffel—are depicted. They are the work of Maryland sculptor Phillip Ratner.
In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO "Statement of Significance" describes the statue as a "masterpiece of the human spirit" that "endures as a highly potent symbol—inspiring contemplation, debate and protest—of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity."
|Height of copper statue||151 ft 1 in||46 m|
|Foundation of pedestal (ground level) to tip of torch||305 ft 1 in||93 m|
|Heel to top of head||111 ft 1 in||34 m|
|Length of hand||16 ft 5 in||5 m|
|Index finger||8 ft 1 in||2.44 m|
|Circumference at second joint||3 ft 6 in||1.07 m|
|Head from chin to cranium||17 ft 3 in||5.26 m|
|Head thickness from ear to ear||10 ft 0 in||3.05 m|
|Distance across the eye||2 ft 6 in||0.76 m|
|Length of nose||4 ft 6 in||1.48 m|
|Right arm length||42 ft 0 in||12.8 m|
|Right arm greatest thickness||12 ft 0 in||3.66 m|
|Thickness of waist||35 ft 0 in||10.67 m|
|Width of mouth||3 ft 0 in||0.91 m|
|Tablet, length||23 ft 7 in||7.19 m|
|Tablet, width||13 ft 7 in||4.14 m|
|Tablet, thickness||2 ft 0 in||0.61 m|
|Height of pedestal||89 ft 0 in||27.13 m|
|Height of foundation||65 ft 0 in||19.81 m|
|Weight of copper used in statue||60,000 pounds||27.22 metric tonnes|
|Weight of steel used in statue||250,000 pounds||113.4 metric tonnes|
|Total weight of statue||450,000 pounds||204.1 metric tonnes|
|Thickness of copper sheeting||3/32 of an inch||2.4 mm|
Hundreds of replicas of the Statue of Liberty are displayed worldwide. A replica 30 ft tall stood atop the Liberty Warehouse on West 64th Street in Manhattan for many years; Among other recreations of New York City structures, a replica of the statue is part of the exterior of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As an American icon, the Statue of Liberty has been depicted on the country's stamps and coinage. It appeared on commemorative coins issued to mark its 1986 centennial, and on New York's 2001 entry in the state quarters series. An image of the statue was chosen for the American Eagle platinum bullion coins in 1997, and it appears on the reverse, or "tails", side of the currently issued series of Presidential Dollar circulating coins.
The statue is a frequent subject in popular culture. In music, it has been evoked to indicate support for American policies, as in Toby Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)", and in opposition, appearing on the cover of The Dead Kennedys' album Bedtime for Democracy, which protested the Reagan administration's policies. It is destroyed in the science-fiction films Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and Cloverfield.<ref name="popcult"/> In Jack Finney's time-travel novel Time and Again, the right arm of the statue, on display in the early 1880s in Madison Square Park, plays a crucial role. Robert Holdstock, consulting editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, wondered in 1979,
Where would [science fiction] be without the Statue of Liberty? For decades it has towered or crumbled above the wastelands of deserted [E]arth—giants have uprooted it, aliens have found it curious ... the symbol of Liberty, of optimism, has become a symbol of science fiction's pessimistic view of the future."
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- The Statue of Liberty, Ken Burns documentary
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