The Statue of Liberty is probably the most iconic sculpture (or structure) in the world today. Although there are many replicas of the statue all over the world, the main one is in the harbor of New York. Of all the buildings in the world, the Statue of Liberty is a statement – a statement of peace from one country to another, and obviously it symbolizes Liberty.
It was also another gift that France donated to America and that is the engineering skill and construction techniques. A French sculptor was commissioned to create a structure that could be given to the United States to commemorate the celebration of the centennial of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence.
Liberty Enlightening the World
The statue was actually called Liberty Enlightening the World, and although many people think of it as a purely French construction, it was actually a collaboration with America. The Americans were charged to build the pedestal and the French engineers would construct the actual statue.
Many people of the time were calling the project The New Colossus and in fact a poem was written in 1883 with that as a title. Whatever its name, the project in itself was colossal and lacked funding both sides of the Atlantic.
It is amazing that the Statue of Liberty was ever built, serious fundraising had to be done both in France and America. In fact, the designer of the pedestal, Richard Morris Hunt, even donated his fee to help the fund. The final financing for the pedestal project was completed in 1885 and work was completed twelve months later. Meanwhile back in France, the actual statue was finished in 1884, stowed aboard the ship Isere which docked in New York Harbor in June 1885.
To transport this great colossus, the frame was broken down into three hundred and fifty pieces which were placed in nearly two hundred and twenty crates for the long voyage. Four months later the statue was reassembled on the American pedestal. The ceremony for the unveiling took place in October 1886, and President Grover Cleveland was there to announce New York’s latest addition to its harbor. The irony was that the statue was ten years late to celebrate the centennial.
The location of the statue was not an afterthought, it was deliberately placed at the entrance of one of the most iconic harbors in the world as a sign of what America stood for, its values and culture. So many of the forefathers of current day Americans looked up at this great symbol of freedom, possibility as they sailed into New York Harbor in their immigrant ships.
The U.S Lighthouse Board were responsible for the statue’s upkeep until 1901 when it was passed over to the American War Department along with Fort Wood. And soon later there was a proclamation that stated the Statue of Liberty and Ford Wood were a national monument. The Statue of Liberty is so much more than a beautiful sculpture, it is a fantastic collaboration between two nations and a testament of goodwill and friendship.