Why Was the Statue of Liberty Built?
The statue of Liberty was built to celebrate the birth of the United States of America and to commemorate the friendship between that republic and the republic of France. It stands on Bedloe’s Island (now renamed Liberty Island) at the mouth of New York Harbor, in accordance with the wishes of the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The plan for the monument originated in France.
The cost of the statue was met by the French people, while the money for the 300-foot pedestal was raised in the United States. Although the monument was not unveiled until 1886, the idea was conceived at the end of the 18th Century when France and the United States were the only big democratic republics in existence.
Under the 151-foot statue, symbol of freedom and equality, is a moving poem, inscribed inside the pedestal. In this poem “The New Colossus”, the writer, Emma Lazarus, invited the tired, poor and homeless to come to America in search of Liberty. Until the 1986 renovation, it was mounted inside the pedestal; today it resides in the Statue of Liberty Museum, in the base. “The New Colossus” tablet is accompanied by a tablet given by the Emma Lazarus Commemorative Committee in 1977, celebrating the poet’s life.
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.”
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States. The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The Statue of Liberty is a figure of a robed woman representing Libertas, a Roman goddess. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed in Roman numerals with “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776), the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Because of the post-war instability 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 U.S. provide the site and build the pedestal. 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 torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattanfrom 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a drive for donations to finish the project and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar.
The statue was built in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal, 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. Public access to the balcony around the torch has been barred for safety since 1916.