René de Laboulaye
was a French politician with a love for America. In 1865 Laboulaye
invited friends to his country house outside Paris. As they toasted
the end of the American Civil War, Laboulaye made a suggestion: a
gift from the French people to the American people. But what kind
of gift? his guests asked.
Frédéric Auguste de Bartholdi was sent to America for ideas. As his ship arrived in New York, an
image came to him: a great female statue, standing on an island in
the harbor. It would symbolize liberty and Franco-American friendship.
of French citizens offered donations. Gustave Eiffel --
who later built the famous tower in Paris -- created the statue's
iron skeleton. Liberty was designed by the French sculptor Frederic
Auguste Bartholdi. The hollow copper statue was built in France -
it was finished in July, 1884. It was brought to the USA in 350 pieces
on a French ship called the "Isere" (in June, 1885).
stayed in pieces through the early 1880s. The separate pieces were
scattered about New York -- the huge head here, a gargantuan foot
there. The hand with the torch stood in Madison Square, where visitors
could climb up inside it.
For a long
time it seemed like this statue would never be put together and raised.
Some New Yorkers even suggested leaving it in parts permanently. People
could travel about the city and visit the different pieces one by
one. A "serial statue," they called it.
YORK WORLD publisher Joseph Pulitzer felt
the uncompleted statue was an embarassment. The obstacle, he knew,
was money. The French people had paid for the statue. Americans were
supposed to pay for an 89-foot pedestal. A fund was started in 1884.
But a year later, the pedestal stood just 15 feet high.
Pulitzer begged his readers
to donate anything they could. A total of 121,000 did, with most sending
less than a dollar. Finally, the statue could stand.
The day of the Statue
of Liberty's dedication dawned rainy and cold. Fog made it difficult
to see the top of the giant statue, which had cost a total of $650,000
to build. Still, one million people and 300 ships came out for the
spectacle on October 28, 1886. There was a twenty-one-gun salute,
a speech by President Grover Cleveland, and a grand ball in the evening.
The total cost of the celebration was $9,000.
From toe to torch is 151
feet. The hands are 150 square feet each, the size of an average bedroom.
At eight feet, the index finger is the length of a surfboard, and
each fingernail is the size of a sheet of paper. Altogether, the statue
weighs 225 tons -- equal to 5,000 junior-high-school students, more
There are 354 steps inside
the statue and its pedestal. There are 25 viewing windows in the crown.
The seven rays of Liberty's crown symbolize the seven seas and seven
continents of the world. Liberty holds a tablet in her left hand that
reads "July 4, 1776" (in Roman numerals),
The Light of Liberty