The original name of this copper icon of the United States was “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World”. It was a gift from France, created by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, and was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
It was designated a National Monument in 1924.
Lady Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother Marie and is 305 feet and 1 inch tall – the equivalent of a 22 story building and was the tallest structure in New York back in 1886.
The original torch was removed in 1984 and entry to it was closed to the public in 1916 after the Black Tom explosion.
The current torch was added in 1986 and is crafted from copper covered in 24 karat gold to reflect the sun in daylight and the floodlights at night.
The torch represents enlightenment of the world.
The tablet in Lady Liberty’s left hand has the date of American Independence July 4, 1776 inscribed in Roman numerals.
The spikes on the crown represent rays of light marking the seven seas and continents of the world.
The stone pedestal on which Lady Liberty stands was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt in 1884. It’s roughly half the height of the entire monument.
The Liberty Island Museum is located inside the lobby of the pedestal and chronicles the progress toward building this monument of freedom.
The foundation of Lady Liberty was laid inside Fort Wood, a disused army base on the Island that was constructed between 1807 and 1811. Since 1823, it had rarely been used, though during the Civil War, it had served as a recruiting station. The structure of the fort was designed in the shape of an eleven-point star, giving the pedestal that unique shape we all know today.
The statue’s original torch is on display here.
The pedestal offers panoramic views of Ellis Island, New York, New Jersey, and the harbor.
In order to gain access to the crown, we must first walk up a winding 154 step narrow staircase.
Supporting the statue and the crown is an elaborate framework designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame.
Eiffel’s skeleton of girders and trusses connected to the statue’s copper skin with flat metal bars provide a flexible support system that allow the statue to withstand winds from the Hudson River and temperature changes.
From the crown we can see views of Brooklyn and the harbor.