On the Calendar Pages of your Farmers’ Almanac for the month of June you’ll see that on June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City after nearly a year’s journey by ship from France. Here’s how this amazing statue came to be regarded as a universal symbol of freedom.
How Much Do You Know About The Statue of Liberty?
- In 1865, French politician Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a statue representing liberty be built for the United States to honor our centennial of independence and friendship with France. French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (August 2, 1834 – October 4, 1904) supported the idea and in 1870 began designing the Statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
- Bartholdi used his mother, Charlotte, as the model for the Statue of Liberty. Some say he also used the Roman Goddess of Liberty.
- Construction of the statue officially began in Paris in 1876.
- After the Statue was presented to the U.S. Minister to France in Paris on July 4, 1884, it was disassembled and shipped to the United States aboard the French Navy ship, Isère.
- The Statue arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885, and was met with great fanfare. Unfortunately, the pedestal for the Statue was not yet complete and the entire structure was not reassembled until the next year.
- Once the pedestal was completed in 1886, the Statue was reassembled quickly by a fearless construction crew, many of whom were new immigrants, without the use of scaffolding.
- The seven “spikes” radiating from the statue’s crown are meant to be a halo, also known as an aureole. Each point represents one of the seven continents and Seven Seas.
- When the statue first arrived from France, she was the color of a shiny new penny. It took roughly 20 years for Liberty to develop the greenish-blue patina she wears today.
- The Statue of Liberty resides on Liberty Island, which, until 1956, was known as Bedloe’s Island.
- The star-shaped Fort Wood, which now serves as part of the statue’s pedestal, was home to military families from 1818 until the mid-1930s.
- On October 28, 1886, the Statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” was officially unveiled to some one million New Yorkers in attendance.
- Tourists were once able to climb up to the torch until 1916, but that ended after the Black Tom incident—on July 30, Black Tom, once an island in the New York Harbor, was rocked by the explosion of two million tons of war materials. The blast was the equivalent of a 5.5 magnitude earthquake, and shrapnel flew across the sky and embedded itself in the statue. The Statue of Liberty’s torch was closed, partially due to infrastructure damage from the blast and partially just out of concern for terrorism. It’s been closed ever since. However, you can still get a view from it: Click here to see the Statue of Liberty’s many webcams, including one from the torch!
- The current torch is a 1986 replacement of the original, which is now in the lobby. The new torch is made of copper, covered in 24 k. gold leaf.
- The Statue stands 305 feet, 1 inch (about 93m) from the ground to the tip of the flame. It is the equivalent height of a 22-story building and was the tallest structure in New York in 1886.
- The tablet she is holding reads, “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” – July 4, 1776, the date of American Independence.