Public Art Around The World

More Than Just The Plaque

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Public Art: Statue of Liberty

Also Known As: Liberty Enlightening the World

Sculptor: © Frederic Auguste Bartholdi

Architects: Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel

Description: The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to America. The colossal neoclassical sculpture of the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas, stands 305 ft 1 inch (93m) tall. The massive figure was created by molding sheets of copper over a stainless-steel framework. The robed goddess holds up high a torch in her right hand and cradles the tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) in her other. On the tablet is inscribed ‘July 4th, 1776’, the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet.

Cost: 64,000 francs (about $16,000 at the time)

Funding: The people of France, including school children.

Date Unveiled: The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28th, 1886. President Grover Cleveland was given the honor of accepting the statue on behalf of the United States of America.

Location: You can’t miss her on Liberty Island right there in the harbor, New York City, New York, USA.

Article from Chatterbox (1904) :

ON July 4th, 1884, M. Jules Ferry, the celebrated French minister, had to perform a little ceremony. A stranger had arrived in Paris a day or two before,and it became his duty to introduce this stranger to the American Ambassador. ‘Not very much trouble in that,’ you will say. But when you hear that the stranger was one hundred and fifty-one feet tall and weighed about four hundred and fifty thousand pounds, you will agree with me that a little more than the usual ceremony was necessary.

My country, sir,’ we can imagine M. Ferry saying, wishes to present to the people of America a small memento of the war in which we fought with them side by side, till victory crowned them with independence. This being the anniversary of the day on which the Charter of their Liberty was signed in this city of Paris, it has been chosen as a suitable occasion on which to beg your acceptance of the token of our sympathies and friendship. Click to read more.

Background to the Statue of Liberty: In 1865, the 31-year-old sculptor was attending a dinner in which French historian and politician Edouard Rene de Laboulaye brought up the idea of creating a monument in honor of the Franco-American alliance of 1778, which saw the French army sailing to America to assist Washington during the American Revolution. Though Laboulaye planted the seed, in 1870, Bartholdi took the initiative and began designing the statue on his own. However, Bartholdi continued to discuss the project with Laboulaye.

During a reconnaissance trip to America to find a location for his project, Bartholdi focused on Bedloe’s Island. It was the perfect location, in New York Harbor with a guaranteed audience and owned by the United States government.

In 1875 construction of the copper and steel Liberty began in Paris, France. Bartholdi called on the great engineering minds of Eugene- Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel to design the infrastructure that would support his colossal sculpture. This included four gigantic steel supports.

Ten years later a completed Liberty stood in Paris. She was then dismantled and packed into crates to be shipped to New York City.

Statue of Liberty Trivia:

During the process of designing the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi and Eiffel built several small scale models. One of them resides in Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris and the other taller Statue of liberty model is on Swan Island (Ilee des Cygnes) on the Seine.

Liberty was originally designed to be wearing a pileus, a cap given to emancipated slaves in ancient Rome, but the Secretary of War Jefferson Davis requested it be changed to a helmet, fearing it would be seen as an abolitionist symbol.

The torch was modified for electricity in 1916.

When the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886 it was the tallest structure in New York City.

During strong gusts of winds, the statue can sway up to 3 inches and the torch up to 6 inches.

The statue is covered in 300 sheets of hammered copper.

Liberty was transported from France to New York in 241 crates in 1885.

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