Written by Lyndsey Morgan
The Statue of Liberty is a monument which was built for the celebration of American’s independence. It was a gift from the people of France, and symbolizes liberty in the form of a woman who wore a spiked crown of seven spokes on her head, a torch in her right hand, a book of law with the inscription “4th July, 1776” in her left, and a flowing robe on her body. The crown of seven spokes symbolizes the seven oceans and continents, and the broken chains on her feet symbolize the overthrow of a tyranny.
The statue’s design was attributed to a French sculptor, Federick August Barthodi, in collaboration with French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, in Paris. In this regards, the idea of Lady Liberty could be traced back to the suggestions of some French scholars in 1865, whom amongst them was a French law professor and politician, Edouard Rene de Laboulaye. They thought of a gift to be sent to America, as a way to honor them for their independence. Barthodi was convinced by the statements made by Laboulaye. However, he completed the head and the arm bearing the torch before the statue was completely designed. It was then publicly displayed at international gatherings and expositions from 1876 to 1882 to raise funds. By 1885, work on the pedestal was uncertain due to lack of funding because the fund-raising program proved abortive. Moreover, a campaign for donations was initiated by Joseph Pulitzer, a well-known publisher, which inspired contributors to give towards the completion of the project.
Barthodi fashioned out a style for the statue, defined by a bold and clear design of something that should be very noticeable. In this regards, he choose to use a torch as a peaceful appearance that signifies a symbol that enlightens the world. It was finally constructed in France, shipped, and assembled on the finished pedestal which was constructed in America, and was marked by a dedication ceremony conducted by President Grover Cleveland. The height of the statue measures 151 feet, which makes her one of the largest in the world, and portrays significant features such as democracy, hope, immigration and the end of slavery. Also, the plaque on the statue reveals a poem titled “Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.
By 1886 to 1901, the Statue of Liberty was managed and maintained by the United States Lighthouse Board, after which it was handled by the Department of War. From 1933, it was under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and was closed in 1938 for renovation. However, in the early 1980s it was discovered to have deteriorated to a very large extent and was closed from 1984 to 86 while part of the internal structure, including the torch, were replaced. By 2001, the statue was closed for security reasons due to the September 11th attacks. Also in 2004 and 2009 respectively, the pedestal and statue were reopened, but there was a reduction in the number of guests permitted access to the crown.
Here are links to additional information on the Statue of Liberty: