Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty (3)

There are few monuments in the world that are as famous as Lady Liberty. So when you think of New York, it is likely that the first image that comes to mind is the Statue of Liberty raising her torch. In fact, this was the first image that millions of immigrants from Old Europe saw when they arrived in New York in the late 19th century.

Christened "Liberty enlightening the world", the statue is the work of the French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who in 1860 conceived the dream of erecting a monument to freedom. This dream was shared by the French politician Eduardo Laboulay, who inspired the idea of offering the American people a statue to represent the friendship between the two nations. So, what today has become a major symbol of the United States, is a work of French origin. It was built in Paris before being disassembled and stored in 270 large boxes on the frigate Isère, heading to the United States. 

Initially, the inauguration of the monument was to coincide with the first centenary of American independence in 1876. However, there were serious cash-flow problems in France -which was in charge of constructing, moving and assembling the statue - and in the United States - which was responsible for building the pedestal-, and both countries had to rely on donations, theatrical performances and auctions to fund its construction. The process was stalled for several years until Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of the New York World, made American citizens react by promising to publish the name of each donor in his newspaper. Finally, the Statue of Liberty was inaugurated on 28 October 1886. 

One hundred years later, it was given its first facelift. This involved a bath that cost nothing less than $87 million and that included replacement of the original torch (which is today on display in the lobby) with a new gold-plated one. 

As mentioned, this colossal figure was the work of the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi who, as legend has it, used his mother as a model to design the face, while his future wife inspired him for the body of the statue. 

Bartholdi was assisted by Gustav Eiffel (who was later to design his famous tower), who was responsible for the design of the iron frame of the statue, an imposing skeleton that had to withstand high winds. The pedestal, on the other hand, was built by the Americans following the plans of Richard Morris Hunt, who chose a neoclassical design of reinforced concrete and granite. 

Here are some fun facts about Lady Liberty... The statue weighs 225 tons and is 46 and a half metres tall on a pedestal measuring another 46 metres or thereabouts. It is covered with 300 copper panels that are just 2 millimetres thick, equivalent to two stacked pennies. And if you are interested in other strange measurements, here they are: her nose is 1 metre in length by 37 centimetres in width and her little finger measures 2 metres by 22 centimetres. 

The crown houses an observation point with 25 windows and, above them, seven spikes that symbolise the seven oceans of the world. 

Years ago, the torch was also an observation point that was reached from inside the right arm, but it was closed to the public in 1984 for safety reasons. 

In her left hand she holds a tablet that with the inscription in Roman numerals of the date on which American independence was signed: 4 July 1776, and she is standing on chains to symbolise freedom. 

Measuring 92 metres and 99 centimetres in height, the statue stands on a star-shaped fort called Fort Wood, which was built in the early 19th century to protect the island from armed attacks. 

Built in the port of New York, at the southern end of Manhattan, Lady Liberty 

has become an emblem of America and an almost universal symbol of freedom. However, this freedom was cut short following the 11-S attacks, when access to the statue was closed and security measures on Liberty Island were increased. This can be seen when you take the ferry and when you reach the island (security screening, luggage or bulky items are forbidden, etc.). In August 2004, the base of the monument was reopened to the public and access to the observation point in the crown was allowed once again on 4 July 2009, although strictly controlled (visits are made in groups of no more than 10 people chosen by draw). To make it even safer, in coming years the statue is expected to close its doors to the public for a while to be subject to complete refurbishment.

Some final advice: If you decide not to climb up to the inside of the crown, we recommend you visit the small museum at the base that is devoted to the construction details. And if you still have time, go to Ellis Island to visit the Immigration Museum. It is easy, the island is connected to the statue by the same ferry. Another interesting option is to take a ferry from Battery Park to Staten Island, where you can see and photograph the statue in front and get a great view of Manhattan.

The famous Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol and, as you probably already know, an exceptional film star. Lady Liberty has appeared in thrillers such as "Sabotage" by Hitchcock, in other science fiction films such as "X-Men" and "Planet of the Apes", in comedies like "Ghostbusters II", in dramas like "Titanic" and many more. She has even posed for artists such as Andy Warhol. And now it's your turn. Focus properly and take your best photo.

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