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Statue of Liberty Facts – history and information for kids and adults

Statue of Liberty

It is a lesser known fact that more than 5 million people visit Statue of Liberty every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the USA.

The green colored lady, who dominates every photograph and discussion around New York is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lady Liberty was a gift from the French people to the people of America.

The statue is an engineering marvel and withstands 600 bolts of lightning every year.

In the 130 plus years since its installation on Liberty Island, just outside of New York the Statue of Liberty has been given a lot of nicknames.

Here are the most popular ones: Grande Dame, Lady on a Pedestal, Green Goddess, America’s Freedom, Lady with a Torch, Mother of Exiles, Spirit of American Independence America’s Great Lady, Mother of Freedom, Saint Liberty, Lady of the Harbor, Aunt Liberty, Bartholdi’s Daughter, Giant Goddess, and The Lady Higher Up.

Statue of Liberty facts

The actual full name of the Statue of Liberty is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

The people behind Statue of Liberty

The statue was a brain-child of Edouard de Laboulaye who only proposed that France should gift this statue to the United States as a celebration of both the union’s victory in the American Revolution and the abolition of slavery.

Edouard de Laboulaye also believed that the Statue of Liberty will inspire the French people in their contemporary struggle for democracy against the tyranny of Napolean III.

The Statue of Liberty was built by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. He had a large team who worked long hours daily for nine years to complete the massive statue. Work on the Statue of Liberty finished in the year 1884.

In fact, Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower, was also involved in the construction of Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty is modeled after a Muslim woman

Auguste Bartholdi had initially presented the Lady Liberty’s idea to Egypt. He wanted Lady Liberty statue to guard the newly-opened Suez Canal in Egypt, welcoming ships into the mouth of Egypt’s groundbreaking canal.

This statue was to be called “Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia” and was to resemble a veiled peasant woman.

However, when Egypt rejected his proposal Bartholdi modified it slightly, named her “Liberty Enlightening the World” and presented it to America. If you notice closely, Statue of Liberty wears loose-fitting dress common in the Middle East.

Did the French Government gift Statue of Liberty?

Another lesser-known fact is that the Statue of Liberty was NOT given by the French government to America. Its construction and shipping was entirely crowd-funded by both the French and the American citizens. As per an article published in 1885 in a New York-based newspaper, the sum of $102,000 was raised to construct Statue of Liberty.

All of this was from individual donors. More than 80 percent of this $102,000 was in one dollar contributions.

Funding for Statue of Liberty

While they were ok with funding the Statue, the French requested the Americans to fund the pedestal. To help the Americans raise funds for the pedestal, the arm and torch were shipped over earlier to be displayed at an exposition in Philadelphia. The pieces were then taken to New York and kept in Madison Square Park.

Despite attracting a lot of people, the fundraising wasn’t a success. That’s when newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer stepped in and used the reach of his newspaper to raise funds.

In fact, the head of the statue was exhibited at World’s Fair in Paris back in the year 1878 to encourage funds.

Emma Lazarus’s poem to encourage funding

Eminent American poet Emma Lazarus wrote about the Statue of Liberty in a wonderful sonnet back in the year 1883. This sonnet was written to raise funds for the statue.

Just 20 years later, her poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level. People who buy Pedestal tickets can still see it.

Boston and Philadelphia wanted the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island
Image: Statuecruises.com

Statue of Liberty was very much a sought-after attraction. Groups in Boston and Philadelphia offered to pay the full cost of reconstruction and or relocation of the statue to their states. However, their offers were rejected and it was installed at Liberty island.

Dimensions of Statue of Liberty

The robed figure of the Statue of Liberty is modeled after Libertas, the Roman Goddess of Freedom. That is why she is regarded as a symbol of American independence.

The date of American Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) is inscribed on the torch she is carrying. The tablet she is carrying mentions the date of the declaration.

The broken chains, sculptured at the foot of the statue represent the broken shackles of oppression and tyranny.

Ever wondered how tall Statue of Liberty is? From the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch, the statue stands at a massive height of 305 feet and 6 inches.

Barring the pedestal, the height of the statue itself is 111 feet, 6 inches with an enormous 35 feet waistline (and you were worried about yours!). In total, the statue weighs around 225 ton (or 204,100 kilograms).

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty wears size 879 sandals? Each of her sandals are 25 feet (7.6 meters) long.

300 different types of hammers were used

Four iron columns which form a metal framework is the core of the Statue of Liberty. The copper skin of the statue has been hammered in place around this framework. To create the realistic look 300 different types of hammers were used to hammer the 3/32-inch-thick copper sheet in place.

Facts about Statue of Liberty’s Crown

Statue of Liberty Crown
Image: Theatlantic.com

This is an interesting Statue of Liberty fact – the Crown on the head has seven rays, which represents the seven continents.

The crown has as many as 25 windows and offers a tremendous view of the city. No wonder the Crown Reserve Tickets are so much in demand, all the time.

The Statue of Liberty’s crown weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

The face of Statue of Liberty

Though the Statue of Liberty was constructed based on the figure of a Roman Goddess, it is said that the face of the statue is modeled on the face of the sculptor’s mother Augusta. Bartholdi’s wife posed for the arms and torso of the Statue of Liberty.

The fact that it was modeled on Auguste Bartholdi’s mother came to light when Bartholdi invited French Senator Jules Bozerian to his box at the opera.

When Bozerian noticed a real-life version of the Statue of Liberty sitting in the box, he asked: “Who is that?”

Bartholdi, the sculptor, is known to have smiled and said: “She’s my mother.”

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Controversy over the face of Lady Liberty

One lesser known fact about Statue of Liberty is the controversy over its visage. Many think it hasn’t been modeled on the sculptor’s mother but the inspiration was Bartholdi’s mentally challenged brother Jean-Charles. Which would make the Statue of Liberty a man!

Going up the Statue of Liberty

With more than 5 million tourists visiting the Statue of Liberty, it is always a busy spot.

Check out this Statue of Liberty tour video to understand why it is such a sought after tourist spot.

If you are an adventurous tourist you can go one step further – climb to the crown of the statue.

The stairs to the top of the statue are steep. From the base of the statue of Liberty to reach the top one must climb 393 steps. This is equal to the height of a 27-story building.

From the pedestal to the crown there are 162 very steep and narrow stairs. The space to climb is enclosed and can be suffocating during the summer months.

Shipping Lady Liberty to the USA

After it was built in France, the Statue of Liberty had to be shipped to America is parts. Around 350 individual pieces of the statue had to be packed into 214 crates and then shipped to New York.

The French ship Isere, which was transporting this precious treasure almost sank in stormy seas during its journey.

Lady Liberty gave birth to Ticker Tape parade

Before her installation on 28 October 1886 parts of the statue were taken on a massive parade through Manhattan. When it passed by the Stock Exchange, the day traders threw down ticker tape (paper from the Ticker Tape machines) from the upper windows.

This started what is today known as the Ticker Tape parade. Nowadays confetti is thrown instead of ticker tape.

Installation of Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty was installed on the Bedloe Island (named after an early Dutch settler). In 1956 the island was renamed ‘Liberty island’ by an act of Congress.

On 28 October 1886, Grover Cleveland, President of USA officially accepted Statue of Liberty on behalf of the American citizens. Ever since this day is known as the birthday of Statue of Liberty.

Women were banned from attending the installation ceremony

It is said that women were banned from attending the State of Liberty dedication ceremony at Bedloe’s island. It was ironic because Statue of Liberty was a woman and represented freedom, equality etc.

To make their point heard, suffragists (those who wanted voting rights to be extended to women as well) chartered a boat and held their own ceremony in the nearby harbor.

Their message: “What is the point of erecting a Statue of Liberty in a country where women have no political liberty.”

Some believe that women weren’t banned, but they were advised to stay at home for safety reasons. The organizers were expecting a huge crowd and thought the women’s dresses will make it difficult for them to navigate the crowd.

Fort Wood – base on which Lady with the torch stands

The Statue of Liberty has two parts – the lady’s figure and the pedestal. The pedestal rests on a sturdy but granite fort called Fort Wood. This fort is shaped like an 11-pointed star and was built in 1811.

It was built for a garrison of 350 US Army troops who could protect the New York harbor from any attacks using the 77 mounted guns. Today Fort Wood houses the Museum.

Statue of Liberty was a symbol of immigration

Statue of liberty and migrants
Source: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 2, 1887. Image via Yourvoteyourvoicemn.org

During the second half of the 19th-century Statue of Liberty was a symbol of immigration. Immigrants, coming by boats, saw the statue as the first thing before entering the United States.

Stories of the gigantic woman who welcomed immigrants into the new world spread far and wide. Amongst the immigrants, Statue of Liberty gained iconic status. It was their love for the statue, which made Lady Liberty a popular landmark in the USA.

From 1892 to 1943, the State of Liberty is known to have welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to the USA. You can know all about this when you visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Statue of Liberty was a site for suicide

There is a reason why there are so many National Park Service Rangers inside and around the Statue of Liberty. The statue has had its fair share of morbid history.

Two people committed suicide after jumping down from the statue in the years 1929 and 1932. There were several similar attempts later but all thwarted.

Edison wanted Statue of Liberty to give speeches

After introducing the phonograph in 1877, Thomas Alva Edison decided to leave his mark on the Statue of Liberty.

He told a gathering of journalists that he plans to build a massive phonograph and place it inside Statue of Liberty. He wanted Lady Liberty to deliver speeches which could be heard as far away as Northern Manhattan.

However, Edison’s plan never materialized.

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Why nobody can enter Statue of Liberty’s torch

During World War one when German saboteurs set off an explosion near Statue of Liberty, the torch-bearing arm of Lady Liberty was damaged.

It was eventually repaired and for safety, purposes closed for public. It is going to be 100 years since this closure, and nobody has gone inside since then.

Why is Statue of Liberty green?

When installed Statue of Liberty was the tallest iron structure ever built on this planet.

The framework of the Statue of Liberty is pure iron and the exterior is made up of copper (except for the torch which is now gold plated).

Over the years, due to the process called oxidation, the copper started turning green. The oxidation process was complete by 1920 – the year the statue was completely green.

Though the green coating is a sign of damage, once it was in place it started protecting the copper statue from the elements.

Shoulder and head of Statue of Liberty are misaligned

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan established a team to restore the deteriorating Statue of Liberty in time for a centennial celebration in 1986.

During this period the torch of the statue was covered with a thin sheet of 24k gold. It gives the perfect glittering effect. The renovation also saw the replacement of the original torch with a copper one.

It was during this restoration phase that the team found out that the statue had structural issues – especially the head and shoulders, which were misaligned. So much so, the head of the Statue of Liberty was placed two feet away from where it should be placed.

Statue of Liberty replicas

There are various replicas of the Statue of Liberty. Some of the most popular versions of Statue of Liberty are –

1. Salvador Dali sculpted a replica in 1972 with both the hands holding torches. It is installed at Vascoeuil Castle in France
2. Las Vegas has a Statue of Liberty replica in front of a Manhattan skyline at the New York-New York hotel
3. There is a replica in Rawalpindi, Pakistan – at the Bahria Town
4. A Lego version of Lady Liberty rests at Legoland Billund in Denmark
5. Visnes, Norway hosts a replica of Lady Liberty to remind the visitors that it was from here that the copper for the ‘real’ Statue of Liberty was mined

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