Learn all about one of America’s most famous landmarks with these 10 shining facts about the Statue of liberty.
1. Despite being a symbol of the American nation, the Statue of Liberty was actually designed by Frenchman named Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
2. The island where Lady Liberty stands was renamed “Liberty Island” in 1937.
3. The Statue of Liberty is made of over 300 layers of copper.
4. The Statue of Liberty’s full title is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
5. The Statue of Liberty’s name and appearance was derived from the Roman goddess Libertas, whose face was a symbol for freed slaves and often appeared on currency in ancient Rome.
6. The torch Lady Liberty holds is made of 24k gold.
7. The Statue of Liberty’s thumbnail is over a foot long (0.3 meters).
8. The Statue of Liberty holds a tablet of law with the date “July IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776) inscribed on the cover. The tablet is almost 14 (4.3m) feet wide.
9. The Statue of Liberty did not always have her distinctive teal complexion.The piece was originally cast in copper, but exposure to the elements created a green patina across the entire statue. This film is called verdigris.
10. Four million people visit the Statue of Liberty every year.
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The Statue of Liberty, officially named the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, sits on the 12-acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor. This national monument, along with Ellis Island, has represented freedom from tyranny, financial hardship and suffering for many immigrants since the late 1800s. The French gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States as a gift to mark the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.
French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi collaborated with French engineer Gustave Eiffel to create the statue. They designed the massive structure using thin pounded copper sheets covering a steel framework. Eiffel, also responsible for Paris’ Eiffel Tower, created the frame of the statue. Its design and construction were considered an engineering masterpiece of the 19th century. American architect Richard Morris Hunt designed its pedestal. Completed in 1884, the French warship “Isere” transported the statue in 350 parts and packed in 214 crates. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886, according to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation website.
The Statue of Liberty looks like a tiny figure when viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge; however, at close range, it is an impressive figure in the New York Harbor. From pedestal to tip, the 225-ton (450,000-pound) statue is 305 feet, 6 inches, with the face measuring more than 8 feet tall. There are 154 steps from the pedestal to the head, and the figure has a 35-foot waistline. The tablet reads JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776). The Statue of Liberty’s green coloring occurs because of the weather’s effect on copper. In 1986, the copper torch was replaced by a torch overlaid with 24-carat gold.
The physical features of the Statue of Liberty have symbolic meanings. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation website says the broken shackles at Liberty’s feet symbolize breaking away from tyranny and oppression. The seven rays on her crown represent the seven continents; each weighs about 150 pounds and is about 9 feet long. The National Park Service says the 25 windows in her crown signify gemstones found on the Earth and heaven’s rays shining over the world. The torch signifies lighting the path to freedom, reflecting the sun during the day and illuminated by 16 floodlights at night.
Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
In 1883, Jewish socialite Emma Lazarus wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus,” comparing the Statue of Liberty to the Colossus of Rhodes. Lazarus’ words remained virtually unnoticed until after her death, when philanthropist Georgina Schuyler found the poem in a portfolio of poetry written to raise funds to aid in the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Moved by the poem, Schuyler wanted to memorialize Lazarus. In 1903, a plaque bearing the poem’s final five lines, which begin with the famous words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” was placed on the inner wall of the statue’s pedestal. The American Studies department at the University of Virginia reports that by 1945, an engraving of the whole poem was placed at the statue’s main entrance.
The Statue of Liberty is not only a national monument; it serves as a reservoir of the statue’s history. The pedestal contains a lobby, exhibits on the first and second floors and a 10th-floor observatory. Located on the first floor, the Torch Exhibit features the original 1886 torch. The second floor’s exhibits, including Mother of Exiles, Becoming the Statue of America and The Statue in Popular Culture, consist of photos, prints, artifacts and oral histories. The second-floor balcony overlooks the torch exhibit and provides diagrams, photos and historic details. The Statue of Liberty was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and architectural significance.
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