Statue of Liberty – an American Colossus

Statue of Liberty, 1951.
Margaret Bourke-White/Life Pictures/Getty Images
  • The iconic statue was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France.
  • Location: Liberty Island (Bedloe Island)
  • Built: 1884
  • Dedicated: 1886
  • Sculptor: Frederic Auguste Bartholdi
  • Engineer: Gustave Eiffel
  • Pedestal: Richard Morris Hunt

Lady Liberty was christened “Liberty Enlightening the World” and gifted to the people of the United States by the people of France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American independence.

Quite a unique work of art — the first colossus created since antiquity — she was inspired by the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At 151 feet tall and made out of copper, she is an engineering wonder. Her outer copper dress is quite light, just 2 pennies thick. Her weight is supported by a bearing structure constructed by Gustave Eiffel, who later used the same principles for his famous Eiffel Tower.

An 1875 image of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the creator of the Statue of Liberty, posing with a visitor while the statue was under construction inside a Paris studio.

“Liberty Enlightening the World” was born out of the ambition and imagination of its creator Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It took him 10 years to complete, progressing from smaller models to the final colossus. Two of Liberty’s younger sisters reside in Luxembourg Gardens and the “Swan Ally” island in Paris.

Assemblage of the Statue of Liberty in Paris, showing the bottom half of the statue under scaffolding, with the head and torch at its feet, photographed in 1883.

The final statue was built and dedicated in Paris, then transported to New York by a ship packed in over 200 containers. Remarkably, it was reassembled with barely any instructions!

Lady Liberty greeted millions of new immigrants arriving in New York as a symbol of hope for a new life. The torn chains around her ankles symbolize freedom, and the seven rays of the Statue’s crown stand for the seven seas and continents of the world.

The Statue of Liberty is a figure of Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess. The tablet which the Statue holds in her left hand reads (in Roman numerals) “July 4th, 1776,” the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Some statistics:

  • Height from base to torch 151’1″ (46.5 m)
  • Ground to tip of torch 305’1″ (92.99 m)
  • Length of hand 16’5″ (5 m)
  • Index finger 8’0″ (2.44 m)
  • Length of nose 4’6″ (1.48 m)
  • Length of right arm 42’0″ (12.8 m)
  • Head – Chin to cranium 17’3″ (5.26m)
  • Width of head 10’0″ (3.05m)
  • Width of eye 2’6″ (0.76m)
  • Winds of 50 miles per hour cause the Statue to sway 3 inches and the torch sways 5 inches.
  • The total weight of copper in the Statue is 31 tons
  • Feet are 25 ft. long, US women’s shoe size 879.
  • Visitors climb 354 steps to reach the crown or 192 steps to the pedestal.
  • There are 25 windows in the crown which symbolize 25 gemstones found on the earth.

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