Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty has stood as a
welcoming symbol to millions of immigrants to the United States for more than 100
years. At 151 feet in height she is one of the largest statues in the world.
She is probably also the most recognised statue in the world. Lady Liberty was
conceived way back in 1865 by a group of French scholars and statesman who were
enjoying a dinner meal together in Glatigny,
men were ardent admirers of the American system, especially its Constitution.
It was suggested that a gift be sent to the American people, by way of giving
homage to that nation as well as marking its centennial celebration. There was,
however, an ulterior motive. The host of the evening, Professor Edourd de
Laboulaye, was keen to get American backing for his political goal: the
establishment of the Third Republic in France. Once of those who was
impressed by the idea of a statue-like gift to the Americans was famed sculptor
August Bartholdi. Bartholdi envisioned a woman in flowing robes holding a
flaming torch in her raised hand. Under Emperor Napoleon, however, it wasn’t
politically expedient to make a gift to the Americans. So the plan got bogged
in red tape until Napoleon was deposed in 1871. With the plan back in vogue, Bartholdi
made a trip to America
in search of the ideal location for his proposed statue. He found it on a
little island on New York Bay callede Bedloe’s Island.
Since 1956 it has been known as Liberty Island.
Then the excited Frenchman headed home to put chisel to stone. His creation
soon came to incorporate the symbols of it’s maker’s
personal life views. Bartholdi was a Freemason and Lady Liberty came to take on
some of their symbols, including the book, the torch in her left hand and the
seven pointed diadem around her head. On July 4, 1884 the Statue of liberty was
presented to the American Ambassador in Paris.
But, still it had to be transported to its new home in New York harbor. To achieve the services of
designer Gustave Eiffel were employed. Eiffel would later become famous for
another creation - the Eiffel
Tower. He constructed an
iron framework to house the copper clothing and skin of Lady Liberty. The
Statue itself was dismantled and packed into 200 crates for it’s
trip to New York.
On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled on Bedloe’s Island. Over the next 100 years it became
perhaps that most well known landmark on earth. By 1984, however, the ravages
of weather, time and public inspection had left their mark. The Statue was
closed down so that repairs could be carried out. The repairs were planned for
a reopening to coincide with the Bicentennial Celebration - July 4, 1976.
Millions of dollars were invested in the project as the Lady was enshrouded in
a massive shroud for two years. The new Lady Liberty was a great improvement,
even incorporating the tallest hydraulic elevator in North
America, reaching a height of 30 meters as it takes visitors in a
glass walled car to the top of the pedestal. From here tourists can climb a
staircase to the head of the Statue. The Statue of Liberty is, indeed, a much
cherished gift. If only the ideals that she stands for, life, liberty and
peace, were a reality in her homeland, then her existence would have real