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A Symbol of Freedom
La Liberté éclairant le monde means “Liberty Enlightening the World” in French, and the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The colossal robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, bears a torch and a tabula ansata, which is a tablet evoking the law. The icon of freedom was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the ceremony of dedication. President Cleveland spoke, stating that the statue’s “stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until Liberty enlightens the world”.
The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. Today it is known as Liberty Island. It sits in the middle of New York Harbor, in Manhattan, New York City.
The Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The UNESCO “Statement of Significance” describes the statue as a “masterpiece of the human spirit” that “endures as a highly potent symbol—inspiring contemplation, debate and protest—of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity.”
Frédéric Bartholdi had made a first model of his concept in 1870. He focused on Bedloe’s Island as a site for the statue, unable to ignore the fact that ships arriving in New York had to sail past it. He was delighted when he learned that the island was owned by the United States government.
The head and arm had been built with assistance from Viollet-le-Duc, who fell ill in 1879. The following year, Bartholdi was able to obtain the services of the innovative designer and builder Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel’s design made the statue one of the earliest examples of curtain wall construction, in which the exterior of the structure is not load bearing, but is instead supported by an interior framework.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge used his authority under the Antiquities Act to declare the statue a National Monument.
The statue of Liberty was closed for renovation for much of 1938.
The beloved Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and delivery from oppression the world over.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoy a sail from Staten Island past The Statue of Liberty in the 1957 photo displayed of the royal couple.
Image Credit: AP, Library of CongressA Symbol of Freedom by Jaan