Built atop the Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic monuments of the United States. This 'Liberty enlightening the World', as it is called, was a gift from the French to the United States. The statue of Liberty is in the form of a robed woman holding a torch, standing on a rectangular stonework pedestal. Being one of the most acclaimed monuments in the world, the Statue of Liberty has a great historical significance.
Time is witness to the fact that the United States would not have achieved freedom from the British, if not for the help from the French. Since long, the French admired the Americans for attaining freedom from slavery and achieving the establishment of a democratic government at the end of the American Civil War. France and the United States shared their views about liberty and were known as the two sisters. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of this long-lasting relationship between the Americans and the French.
The statue derives its external appearance from Libertas, ancient Rome's goddess of freedom from slavery and tyranny. Her right foot, which is raised, is symbolic of moving forward while her left foot is shown to be tramping down the shackles. The torch held by her represents enlightenment and the seven spikes on her crown are symbols of the seven continents and the seven seas. There is a tablet in her hand depicting the date, July 4, 1776, the day of the United States Declaration of Independence.
The Statue of Liberty is made of a sheeting of copper, suspended from a framework of steel. The flame of the torch held by the lady in the statue, is coated with gold leaf. The statue is 46 meters tall and including the pedestal and the foundation, it measures as tall as 93 meters.
Eduardo Rene de Laboulaye, a politician and a writer of history, initiated the idea of France gifting the United States a sculpture, on the Centennial of the United States Declaration of Independence. In accordance with this plan, French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi was appointed to design a sculpture. The first model for the statue was built in 1870. The second model, built on a small scale, is now a part of a museum of Maceio.
France needed a huge amount of funds for materializing the dream of gifting the United States with such a magnificent sculpture. Entertainment shows, donations, and mass appeal were some of the ways used for raising funds. The French managed to raise 2,250,000 francs.
Bartholdi obtained the assistance in engineering regarding the structural issues associated with designing, from Gustavo Eiffel. Eiffel appointed Maurice Koechlin, a structural engineer to do the detailed work of engineering the statue. It was planned that the statue would be erected by July 4, 1876. However, only the right arm and the torch could be completed by then. Visitors who came to see this unfinished statue were charged 50 cents to climb to the balcony. The money raised in this way was used to fund the erection of the pedestal.
Around the same time, a location to erect the statue was finalized. In February 1879, Bartholdi was granted the US patent for the design of the statue. The construction of the statue was completed in 1884. This historical sculpture reached the New York harbor on August 11, 1885. After waiting for the construction of the pedestal to complete, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
In 1924, the statue was established as a national monument and began to be managed by the National Park Service from 1933. It was renovated between 1984-1986, on account of the statue's 100th birthday. While millions of tourists from different parts of the world visit the Statue of Liberty every year, the Americans watch this 'personification of glory' with pride and admiration.