May 14, 2019 in Informative
The Statue of Liberty Monument

The Statue of Liberty is a great sculptural monument being one of the most popular attractions in New York. Moreover, this sculpture is one of the common symbols of the United States. The Statue of Liberty was donated by France to the American people as a gift of friendship that strengthened in the years of the American Revolution in 1884. In fact, The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the United States, which was created to display the worldwide objective of peace and tranquility, and represent the symbolic relevance to the world. An important fact is that this monument has an exciting story of existence, and the creation of the statue was one of the most complex processes that she went through her history.  


One of the most common opinions is that the idea of a monument was dedicated to the attainment of independence by the United States that was achieved shortly after the end of the Civil War. The author of this idea was a French writer and scientist Edouard de Laboulaye who was also a great admirer of the American system of statehood. This idea caught the attention of Frederic Bartholdi, a famous French sculptor who worked on the project of a huge sculpture in the form of a female body with a torch in her hand. In fact, Bartholdi planned to install this monument at the entrance of the Suez Canal. Besides, the sculptor thought to create something similar to Colossus of Rhodes that served as a prototype for the future Statue of Liberty. In 1870, Bartholdi made the first sketches of the sculpture according to the images of the Roman goddess of liberty Libertas being one of the symbols of the United States. However, there are many ideas about what woman has become the prototype of Lady Liberty. According to one of the versions, Bartholdi created a sketch of a sculpture with Isabella Boyer who was the wife of Isaac Singer, inventor of an improved sewing machine. Some historians defend the theory that the image of a female figure with a torch in her hand was inspired by Delacroix painting "Liberty Leading the People on the barricades." Besides, it was believed that facial features of the Statue of Liberty reminded Bartholdi's mother.


In 1871, the sculptor with the Laboulaye recommendations went to America, and upon arrival in New York, his attention was immediately caught by the Bedloe’s Island (then known as the Island of Freedom) as the site of the future construction of the monument. During his visit to the United States, Frederic Bartholdi met many influential Americans, including The President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant, who supported the idea of installing a monument. In 1875, before the scheduled for next year World Exhibition in Philadelphia, which was dedicated to the centenary of the proclamation the independence of the United States, Edouard de Laboulaye announced the launching of the "Liberty Enlightening the World" project. In fact, French government launched the program to raise funds for the construction of the monument, and provide the position that the general sculpture is a gift from France to the United States, and the pedestal for it will be built with help of Americans. In the spring of 1876, Bartholdi came to the United States again as a member of the French delegation at the World Exhibition. In August of that year, the French sculptors sent the first element of the future sculpture, the right hand with a torch. In fact, the hand of the Statue of Liberty (with balcony on the torch) has gained great popularity among the visitors. After the end of the exhibition, the hand was moved to New York, where an unusual exhibition attracted people and contributed to the growth of the project’s popularity. Later, the fragment returned to France and was assembled with the rest of the giant attributes of the statue. In March 1877, The United States President Ulysses S. Grant on his last working day at the White House signed a document giving consent for accepting a gift from the French, The Statue of Liberty. The next day, the successor Grant Rutherford B. Hayes officially approved Bedloe’s Island as a place for the monument. In 1878, Bartholdi finished the head of sculpture and presented it to the public at the World Exhibition in Paris. Moreover, in 1879 Bartholdi started creating the interior of the buildings by Gustavo Eiffel, one of the most distinguished engineers of that time, and later the creator of the famous tower. In fact, Eiffel designed the support structure of the statue that includes two spiral staircases leading to the crown, and fixing the outside part of the sculpture. By that time, Bartholdi had decided to assemble the Statue of Liberty in France and then divide it into several parts for the transportation to the United States.  It will ensure the accuracy of its production. 


The construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which was designed by a renowned architect Richard Hunt, was launched in 1883. The huge structure was erected inside the eleven-pointed star shape of Fort Wood, which was built on the Bedloe’s Island in the early XIX century. It originally planned to use the granite blocks for the construction of a pedestal, but due to lack of funds, the constructors gave preference to concrete, while granite was used only for cladding. Due to the decision to build support in the old fort, the project recommended by Bartholdi was to change such aspects as architectural harmony, power, and economy. The granite from Lit Island was selected as the material for the outer wall. The cornerstone was laded by William A. Brodie, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, with an impressive Masonic ceremony in August 1884. The work on the footing rapidly progressed until the end of 1884. In fact, when a finished structure was only 15 feet, the work had to be stopped because the American Committee spent all possible financial resources. After solving the financial problems in 1885, the work was resumed, and the constructors began to reflect on the very important technical issue, the resistance of the wind pressure. When the 29-foot level reached the footing, the four large runs were built into the wall and formed a square inner cross section. Thus, the statue was made an integral part of the footing, and any force exerted on it rushed down to the 29-foot level, so that the great weight of the upper 60 feet of granite and footing became an addition to the statue. In June 1885, the disassembled Statue of Liberty was delivered from France to New York. The ship that brought it was met by tens of thousands people. In fact, the arrival of the sculpture in America gave a new impetus to the efforts of raising money. In April 1886, the pedestal for statue was completed and builders started assembling the statue. At the end of April 1886, the last stone of the footing was installed, and the jubilant workers threw the handful of silver coins to the monument. The next stage was the receiving of a generous gift from the people of France. 


The completion of the Statue of Liberty was officially announced at a ceremony in Paris on July 4, 1884, on the day of independence of the United States of America. In the presence of Jules Ferry, the French Foreign Minister and President of the Council of Ministers, Graf Ferdinand de Lesseps, on behalf of the Committee of the Franco-American Union and national manifestations presented an enormous Statue of "Liberty enlightens the world", the work of the prominent sculptor Bartholdi. Six months later, the sculpture was disassembled and prepared for transportation to New York. By January 1885, the work of the statue shipment to the United States was completed. In fact, each piece has been classified and marked in such a way that builders could reassemble it with great precision and efficiency on the Bedloe’s Island. The pieces were packed into specially constructed 214 containers, which varied in weight from a few hundred pounds to several tons. The French Government delivered the vessel Isere to transport the statue to the United States. In May 1885, Isere left Rouen reached Sandy Hook, the entrance to New York harbor on 17 June. After the papers and the right for the statue were transferred to Charles Stone, the ship docked on the Bedloe’s Island. The Statue of Liberty was officially opened on October 28, 1886. During that night, a torch in the hand of the statue was lit. The celebration began with the parade that was held on the streets of Manhattan, and from the windows of the New York stock exchanges improvised serpentine, which was the tape telegraph, was thrown by people. Then, officials led by United States President Grover Cleveland moved to the Bedloe’s Island, and after giving a speech, the cover over the head of the statue in the form of the French flag was removed. Therefore, on behalf of the United States, the statue was accepted by President Grover Cleveland. Particularly impressive were the following words in his speech, “We will not forget that Liberty had her home here, and now her chosen altar will not be neglected”. 


At the same time, along with the supporters of the construction of the monument there were opponents as well. In fact, the opponents noticed that the financial state of the US was not conducive to such large-scale projects. Besides, it was also believed that the Americans needed realistic images of heroes associated with the Civil War that had recently ended, but not allegoric monuments in the form of a Statue of Liberty. Moreover, the money that was needed for the construction of a gigantic sculpture became a serious problem. In fact, the United States Congress and the Governor of the State of New York refused to provide the necessary amount of finances. A huge role in the financing of the construction was played a prominent American journalist Joseph Pulitzer, who published his works in the newspaper New York World, and promised to publish the names of all people who have made at least the smallest donation. Pulitzer kept his word, and even wrote about "a single dollar from the children, collecting money for the trip to the circus" and "sixty cents of a young girl that alone in this world."


The sculpture created by Frederic Bartholdi is 93 meters high. In the right hand of a statue, people can see the torch of freedom, and in the left - the tablet, with the date of the proclamation of independence of the United States written in Roman numerals. At the foot of the statue, there is a broken chain, which symbolizes freedom from slavery. In fact, The Statue of Liberty is a steel carcass with a total weight of 125 tons. The carcass is built in such a way that inside the monument, people can safely walk and even climb the spiral staircase to the very top. At the top, the steel skeleton is covered with copper sheets that harmoniously match the wooden shapes with a thickness of 2.37 mm and a total weight of 31 tons. To view New York from the platform situated in the crown a man must walk 354 steps. In addition, the seven rays of the crown represent the seven seas and seven continents, as was commonly believed in the West. The Crown has 25 viewing windows, which symbolize the earth and celestial pearl rays that illuminate the world. Inside the pedestal, there is a museum, which people can reach by means of an elevator. 


For over a century history, the Statue of Liberty has had a lot of repairs and reconstruction works. Unfortunately, the rain during the opening night obscured the light of the monument. When the rain stopped, it was obvious that the lamp of Liberty will not shine 50 miles to the sea, and the problem of lighting puzzled everyone. In fact, initial electrical system was replaced several times with modern equipment. In 1916, the presidential yacht Mayflower was anchored close to the Bedloe’s Island, and the President Woodrow Wilson triggered the first of an adequate lighting system, which gave an electrical impulse and had new floodlights. The builders installed two hundred and forty-six projectors, flashing 250-watt lamps that were located at the monument and on the roofs of small houses on the island. Moreover, the statue was equipped with fifteen electric bulbs in the torch. A more profound and advanced system was installed in 1931. It included the electrical transformers, groups of a switch, automatic controls clock, and a new system of floodlighting. This installation consisted of ninety-six 1000-watt sparkling lamps applied as projectors’ floodlights. At the eleventh level, builders installed the 16 lights battery with an aim of strengthening the nature of the statue’s night face. In addition, the builders installed thirteen 1000-watt lamps and one 250-watt lamp in the torch. This improved the system approximately two times in comparison with the previous lighting installation. In conjunction with the project of lighting improvement in 1916, the torch that had been originally made of copper was redesigned using 600 individual parts of differently painted yellow unpolished glass to enlarge and improve the lighting effect. This work was performed by Gutson Borglum, known for his colossal sculptures of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt on the mountain at Mount Rushmore. The torch was equipped with the new ten 1000-watt sparkling lamps including three 200-watt sparkling mercury lamps and six pairs of 400-watt lamps. The interesting fact is that all the lighting was equivalent to the effect greater than a full moonlight. In 1937, people found that certain platforms and stairs in the footing of the statue ought to be replaced. After that, the engineers have done a complete inspection of the structure and copper in the statue from the torch to the beams on which the structure stands. Thus, the spikes removed the crown from the statue’s head and restored it with new iron frames. Besides, the builders replaced footing of the ironwork in places where the sections had rusted but no changes were made to the spiral staircase of the statue. In addition, the look of the statue was improved with the time. The previous solar copper exterior was covered with an attractive light green coating, which not only protected the metal from the effects of wind and rain but also enhanced the beauty and dignity of the statue. Moreover, the appropriate conditions for the elevator existed earlier, but the modern elevator was installed only in 1931. It was originally planned to use the Statue of Liberty as a beacon, but the torch lamps have been weak and the practical application of the sculpture was not realized. In fact, the Statue of Liberty transferred from the control unit of beacons to the United States government military in 1901 and to the National Park Service in 1933.


In the short term, the Statue of Liberty has become one of the most famous structures that continues to meet immigrants and tourists coming to New York. There are many copies of the Statue of Liberty. Some of them are in Paris, another at Frederic Bartholdi hometown of Colmar in Alsace. Moreover, there are similar statues in Las Vegas, Tokyo, and many other places around the world. In addition to the original sculpture, people of New York have a reduced replica of the famous monument that has been installed at the Brooklyn Museum, and on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. In the early fifties of the XX century, more than two hundred copies of The Statue of Liberty were established throughout the United States. 


In 1903, the builders installed a bronze plate on the pedestal of a sculpture with the text of the poem by Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus". The American poet wrote it in 1883, being intended for sale at the literature auction to earn the money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty. Emma wrote, “Give me your weariness, your poverty and breathe freely”, expressing these words of hope and aspirations of the majority of people that immigrated to foreign countries in search of a better life. In 1924, the Statue of Liberty acquired the status of the National Monument of the United States. In 1956, the Bedloe’s Island was renamed to Liberty Island, and in 1966, it was included in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984, on behalf of President Ronald Reagan, builders began the most massive movement aimed at restoring the American symbol. The United States government gathered 87 million dollars owing the successful cooperation of the private sector and the National Park Service. In early July 1986, the updated "Lady Liberty" started functioning for the visitors. Moreover, in 1984, the Statue of Liberty was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unfortunately, the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York led to a closure of the memorial until August 2004. From August 4, the territory of the monument was opened to the visitors, but the entrance to the statue itself remained closed up to the celebration of the Independence Day in 2009. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York and one of the most recognizable symbols of the United States. The Statue of Liberty was established on the Liberty Island in Upper New York Harbor near the southern tip of Manhattan and New Jersey. In fact, The Liberty Island belongs to the United States federal government. In addition, it is directly administrated by the United States National Park Service. Together with the Ellis Island, it forms the national monument "Statue of Liberty". 


As a result, this gift of France became a symbol of the United States and New York, as well as a symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous sculptures in the USA and across the world. The sculptor Frederic Bartholdi commissioned to create a monument in honor of signing the American Declaration of Independence. The creation of the statue was a joint Franco-American project, in which the United States financed the pedestal, and the French side produced a statue itself and then transferred it to the United States. Despite numerous problems, the hard work on the statue was completed in France in July 1884. In June 1885, the statue was taken to New York Harbor on the French frigate "Isere". In October 1886, a huge audience visited the opening ceremony of the Statue of Liberty. In fact, this monument has undergone many improvements and renovations throughout its existence and the efforts were not in vain. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was included in the list of UN World Heritage Sites and every day tourists visit the Bedloe’s Island to see the legendary monument with a great history. 

Related essays