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Statue of Liberty

STATUE OF LIBERTY

STATUE OF LIBERTY, originally named "Liberty Enlightening the World," was a gift from France, unveiled on 28 October 1886 at Bedloe's Island (later Liberty Island) in New York Harbor. There, President Grover Cleveland accepted it as a long-delayed commemoration of a century of American independence. Rising 151 feet above an 89-foot pedestal, it was then the tallest structure in New York City.

The French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi had designed the statue with assistance from the great engineer Gustave Eiffel. It was then shipped from Paris in sections. The project's sponsors were a group of French liberals who tirelessly promoted the United States as a model of popular government rooted in stability and order and wanted France to follow the American example. Accordingly, Bartholdi's gigantic classical goddess carries a tablet representing the American Declaration of Independence. Yet she faces outward, stolid, strong, and unmovable as beams from her upraised lamp radiate across the sea.

The history of the Statue of Liberty is largely a story of its growing centrality and importance among the cherished symbols of the American nation. At first it differed chiefly in size and location from numerous other classical goddesses who crowded the nineteenth century's repertory of symbols. But size and location were crucially important. She was an overwhelming presence at the entry to America's greatest city. As more vaporous goddesses faded in the harsh light of modernity, the great statue became the centerpiece of a magical American place, recognizable everywhere through postcards and magazine covers, with the New York City skyline rising behind her.

To many Americans she also conveyed a profoundly personal message. The millions of immigrants who were landing at New York City in the early twentieth century saw in this majestic figure their first intimation of a new life. In her uplifted arm they read a message of welcome that said, "This vast republic wants me!" By 1910 public schools in some large cities were reenacting in pageants (with a teacher as the statue) the gathering of immigrants into an inclusive nation.

The use of the statue to identify America with an active promotion of freedom received further emphasis in the Liberty Bond drives and parades of World War I and from the ideological mobilization of the United States against totalitarian regimes during and after World War II.


In domestic affairs, embattled images of the statue also energized campaigns for civil liberties and women's rights.

In the mid-1980s, a fabulously successful fund-raising campaign led by Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca produced a deep restoration of the statue, capped in October 1986 by a four-day extravaganza celebrating its centennial.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dillon, Wilton S., and Neil G. Kotler, eds. The Statue of Liberty Revisited: Making a Universal Symbol. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.

Liberty: The French-American Statue in Art and History. New York: Harper and Row, 1986.

Trachtenberg, Marvin. The Statue of Liberty. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.

JohnHigham

See alsoFrance, Relations with ; New York City .

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Liberty, Statue of

Statue of Liberty, statue on Liberty Island in Upper New York Bay, commanding the entrance to New York City. Liberty Island, c.10 acres (4 hectares), formerly Bedloe's Island (renamed in 1956), was the former site of a quarantine station and harbor fortifications. The statue, originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World, was proposed by the French historian Édouard Laboulaye in 1865 to commemorate the alliance of France with the American colonies during the American Revolution and, according to scholars, was originally intended as an antimonarchy and antislavery symbol. Funds were raised by the Franco-American Union (est. 1875), and the statue was designed by the French sculptor F. A. Bartholdi in the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. The world's tallest metal statue when it was made, 151 ft (46 m) in height, it was constructed of copper sheets, using Bartholdi's 9-ft (2.7-m) model. It was shipped to New York City in 1885, assembled, and dedicated in 1886.

The base of the statue is an 11-pointed star, part of old Fort Wood; a 154-ft (47-m) pedestal, built through American funding, is made of concrete faced with granite. On it is a tablet, affixed in 1903, inscribed with "The New Colossus," the famous sonnet of Emma Lazarus, welcoming immigrants to the United States. By the early 20th cent, this greeting to the arriving stranger had become the statue's primary symbolic message. Broadening in its meaning, the statue became a symbol of America during World War I and a ubiquitous democratic symbol during World War II. An elevator runs to the top of the pedestal, and steps within the statue lead to the crown. The statue was extensively refurbished prior to its centennial celebration in 1986. The Statue of Liberty became a national monument in 1924. In 1965, Ellis Island, the entrance point of millions of immigrants to the United States, was added to the monument.

See M. Trachtenberg, The Statue of Liberty (1976); W. S. Dillon, ed., The Statue of Liberty Revisited (1994); B. Moreno, The Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia (2000); Y. S. Khan, Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty (2010); E. Mitchell, Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty (2014).

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Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Large, copper statue of a woman, standing on Liberty Island, New York City harbour. A symbol of US democracy, it was a gift from France, and was built (1876) to commemorate the centenary of US independence. It was designed by Bartholdi on an iron framework designed and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue's official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. It stands 45m (150ft) tall to the top of the torch in the goddess's raised right hand.

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Liberty, Statue of

Liberty, Statue of See Statue of Liberty

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