Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy 125th Anniversary!

This beloved icon of American ideals and freedoms is 125 years old today.  She has been undergoing a much-needed $30 million interior renovation that will make her safer and accessible to even more people.  One of the decks at the top of the pedestal will now be wheelchair accessible in such a way that they can view her interior.  The stairs to her crown have been replaced so that her crown will again be open to the public.  Among other things, she has received improved fire alarms, exit routes and air-conditioning system.

This Grand Old Lady, who stands majestically on Liberty Island in New York Harbor,  was a gift from the people of France to the United States.  A plaque declares that this gift was to honor “ the Alliance of the two Nations in achieving the Independence of the United States of America and attests their abiding friendship.”

The sculpture of a woman in softly flowing robes represents Libertas (the Roman goddess of freedom) and she holds a torch aloft and clutches a tablet representing laws.  The tablet is inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776.  At her feet is a broken chain.

She was designed by Frederic Bartholdi and was dedicated on Oct 28th in 1886.  She was constructed in France then brought to the US in crates for assembly on site.  Did you know that her arm bearing the torch and her head and crown were on display by themselves for several years?
Centennial Exposition

in Paris
They were finished before the rest of the structure and were displayed at expositions for publicity of the project.  The torch was at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and in New York’s Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882.  And her head was exhibited at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878.

When funding ran low and threatened the construction, Joseph Pulitzer, famous publisher of the World newspaper,  organized a fund drive and garnered over 120,000 donations – many for $1 or less.  This statute truly represents the People’s effort and a joint project of France and the United States.

Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886)
 by Edward Moran. Oil on canvas.
 The J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York.

 Happy Anniversary, Statue of Liberty!

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