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|Statue of Liberty
Properly known as Liberty Enlightening the World, the Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. France gave the monument to the United States in 1884 as a symbol of friendship.
This statue is one of the most celebrated examples of repoussé work, which is a process of hammering metal over a mold in order to shape it. It is made of more than 300 thin sheets of copper, with a total weight of about 100 short tons. The outer layer of copper is supported by an iron framework, which resembles that of an oil derrick.
One of the largest statues in the world, Liberty rises 306 feet 8 inches from the bottom of the pedestal to the tip of the torch. The figure alone is 152 feet 2 inches high; the right arm is 42 feet long; the hand is 16 feet 5 inches long; the head measures 28 feet from neck to diadem and 10 feet from ear to ear.
The left arm grasps a tablet bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence. At the feet is a broken shackle symbolizing the overthrow of tyranny.
The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus, was inscribed on a tablet in the pedestal in 1903. It reads:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
The French historian Édouard de Laboulaye first suggested a monument to symbolize liberty. His friend Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue and chose its site. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, built the supporting framework. The pedestal was designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt.
The people of France donated about $250,000 for the construction of the statue, and the people of the United States gave about $280,000 for the pedestal.
The Statue of Liberty was presented to the Minister of the United States in Paris on July 4, 1884, and was shipped to the United States in 214 cases aboard the French ship Isère in May 1885. The site chosen for the statue was the center of old Fort Wood on Bedloe's Island, overlooking the ship channel of New York Harbor. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the monument on October 28, 1886, when it was unveiled before representatives of both countries.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument was designated in 1924. Congress changed the island's name to Liberty Island in 1956. The American Museum of Immigration, built inside the statue's base, opened in 1972. Ellis Island was added to the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1990.
This page was last updated on January 15, 2017.