The Statue of Liberty Was a Gift from France
Statue of Liberty facts reveal that the idea for the French to make a statue for the USA occurred at least 20 years prior to actual dedication of the statue on Liberty Island. Édouard René de Laboulaye, an important French poet, author and political thinker of the time, is considered to be the father of the idea of a monument honoring the independence and freedom of the US in the mid-1860s. He was an abolitionist and the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, and, as such, an avid supporter of the way the American Civil War had ended with the win of the Union and the abolition of slavery.
But his plans didn’t come to fruition until the mid-1870s when a French sculptor named Bartholdi finally started working on the statue. After that, it took another 10 years for the statue to arrive in the USA.
The Statue of Liberty Represents the Roman Goddess Libertas
The statue that was devised by the French abolitionist Laboulaye and the French sculptor Bartholdi was intended to represent the idea of American liberty from the very start. Liberty, the American version of the Roman goddess of freedom Libertas, was very popular at the time – both among emancipated slaves and the elite – and was present on most of the coins of that time.
A few years prior to the “Statue of Liberty project”, the goddess Libertas was also chosen to be depicted on the Great Seal of France, which is still the official seal of the French Republic today.
The Statue Was Initially Built in France
A statue over 150 feet (45 meters) high (without the pedestal) and weighing 450,000 pounds (over 200 tons) would present an engineering challenge even today, but even more so back in the 19th century, so the French made the decision to construct it in France and later assemble it in the USA.
The right arm, the one bearing the torch, and the head were the first parts to be worked on, beginning in 1876. By 1885, the statue was finished, disassembled and prepared for the voyage to its new home.
The Torch and the Book Carry a Special Meaning
Statue of Liberty facts show that the book the Liberty is carrying in her left hand is actually a tabula ansata (a tablet with handles) upon which the date of the Declaration of Independence in Roman numerals is inscribed.
The torch in Liberty’s right hand enlightens the world and is a symbol of progress. It used to be accessible to public until 1916, but has been closed for safety reasons ever since. The enlightenment is thus today not as easy to reach as it used to be…
The Statue of Liberty Was Not Originally Green
The distinctive green color of the statue is known by all who know the statue itself, but not all of them realize that the statue was not originally green. Its present color is just the consequence of oxidation, since the outer layer of the statue is made out of copper. The oxidation has caused the patina of green color, which has covered the initial brown color of the statue.
But the green color is by no means a recent change. The Statue of Liberty became green only about 30 years after it had been placed on the Liberty Island. Although the green color is a sign of age and damage, it also serves as a protective layer.
Liberty Island Got Its Name 70 Years after the Statue Was Constructed
Although Liberty Island is named after the Statue of Liberty that has been there ever since 1886, the island got its name much later – in 1956 when it was renamed by an act of the US Congress.
Prior to that, the island was known as the Great Oyster Island (after the vast beds of oysters that used to be brought to the island at high tide) and the Bedloe’s Island (after its owner from the 17th century, Isaac Bedlow). Liberty Island is nowadays owned by the federal government, and not the nearby city of New York.
The Man Who Helped Design the Statue of Liberty also Designed the Eiffel Tower
Statue of Liberty facts tell us that the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue, but he was aided by a famous French engineer and architect named Gustave Eiffel. If the name sounds familiar it is because the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris was named after the man – the world-famous French monument was erected in 1889, 3 years after the Statue of Liberty was placed on Liberty Island. Bartholdi himself contacted Eiffel in 1881 and asked him for help with designing the Statue of Liberty.
Approximately 4 Million People Visit the Statue of Liberty Every Year
This means 11,000 visitors per day on average; however, that is not enough to make the Statue of Liberty one of the most visited tourist attractions in the US. Attractions such as Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Mall of America in Minnesota, Times Square in New York or Las Vegas Strip in Nevada on average get around 10 times more visitors each. For additional comparison: the most visited paid monument in the world is the Eiffel Tower in Paris with around 19,000 visitors per day on average.
The Statue’s Original Torch Was Removed in 1984
Statue of Liberty facts reveal that the reason for that was leaking water in the torch that had been a problem ever since 1916. The new torch, which was installed in 1986, two years after the old torch was taken down and exactly 100 years after the statue has been erected, is an exact replica of Bartholdi’s original design but with a flame covered in 24-karat gold.
During the day, the torch reflects sunrays, giving the effect of enlightenment that it is intended to give, and during the night it is lighted by floodlights, achieving the same effect.
The Statue of Liberty Is Made out of 3 Basic Parts
According to Statue of Liberty facts, these 3 basic parts are the foundation, the pedestal and the copper statue itself. The highest part of the monument is the statue, at just over 151 feet, followed by the pedestal at 89 feet, and the foundation at 65 feet.
While the statue is the work of the French, the pedestal and the foundation were made and paid for by the USA, but there were several issues in raising funds. This is the reason the statue wasn’t finished until 1886, even though the French part was completed by the beginning of 1885.
The Face of the Sculpture Is Supposedly Modeled on the Designer’s Mother
Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi was a mother of four children, of whom only two survived to adulthood. One of them was Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the man who later designed the great Statue of Liberty.
For all the effort his mother had put in providing for the young Frédéric, he might have returned the favor by modeling the face of the Liberty on her face. Although this is a wide-spread myth, there is no concluding evidence that would prove or refute it once and for all.
The Statue of Liberty Was the Symbol of Immigrants in the Late 19th Century
Statue of Liberty facts clearly show that the basic meaning behind the great monument is freedom, and, for the millions of immigrants that came to the USA in the late 19th century, seeing the Statue of Liberty was actually achieving freedom.
The statue was often the first thing they saw when arriving at the New York Harbor by boat, since the statue faces the southeast direction. It quickly became the official symbol of their hope for a better life. Although some succeeded in finding a better life, others didn’t, and claimed the freedom the statue was supposed to represent was a hoax.
The Statue Could Have Been Destroyed in the 1916 Black Tom Explosion
In 1916, the Great War that consumed a large part of the planet ravaged the US, and an explosion set by German soldiers on the island next to what later become Liberty Island aimed to sabotage the munition that was made in the US and intended for the Allies. The explosion did not only damage a big part of Black Tom Island, but also the Statue of Liberty on nearby Liberty Island. The skirt and the torch-bearing arm sustained minor damage, and the ascent to the torch was never again made available to the public after this.
Even though the Statue of Liberty never suffered any major damage in reality, there are several movies in which the monument is destroyed, among them the 1996 hit Independence Day with Will Smith, and the 1968 classic The Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston.
Private Boats Are Not Allowed to Dock at Liberty Island
Liberty Island is federal property and cannot legally be visited by any kind of private transportation. The only legal way to get to the island and visit the Statue of Liberty is by taking a ferry operated by Statue Cruises – currently the only company that is allowed to operate transport to the island. What about the prices? Prices have changed greatly through history, but as of 2015, the price for an adult ticket for the ferry is $18.
Statue of Liberty Is Adored by Lightning
Being one of the tallest structures in the New York Harbor and standing completely isolated on Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty gets hit by lightning very often. According to estimates, this happens about 600 times each year, but it was not until 2010 that a photographer finally managed to capture it on his camera. Lightning does not pose any serious threat to the statue, which is grounded through the massive pedestal made out of granite and concrete. Freedom can’t be destroyed, not even by lightning…
2 People Have Committed Suicide by Jumping off the Statue
Statue of Liberty facts reveal that the first suicide occurred in 1929 when a man climbed out of one of the windows in the crown and jumped to his death. A similar incident occurred three years later, with the same result – a death. And since then?
No other suicides have been made with the help of the statue since then. There are several accounts of various suicide attempts being made in the following years, but none of them succeeded.
Hundreds of Replicas of the Statue Can Be Found Across the World
While the Statue of Liberty is, of course, a unique monument, there are hundreds of replicas to be found across the world. The most notable are in Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Liberty Park Halls of Residence in Leicester, Bangu in Rio de Janeiro, Soltau in Germany, New York-New York Hotel & Casino and West Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas, and Vestavia Hills in Birmingham, AL.
In the USA alone, there are hundreds of replicas of the Statue of Liberty – a big number of them due to the effort of Boy Scouts of America, who celebrated their 40th anniversary in 1950 by purchasing 200 100-inch replicas and donating them to states across the USA.
Joseph Pulitzer Helped Realize the Statue of Liberty Project
A financial crisis in the USA in 1873 left the country financially unstable, causing issues with raising funds for financing the Statue of Liberty project. The only way to complete the project was through donations, and it was none other than the famous journalist Joseph Pulitzer (after whom the most prestigious awards in journalism are named) who got the ball rolling by attracting more than 100,000 donations from New Yorkers. It is interesting to note that the majority of donations (around 80%) were for less than $1.
The 7 Spikes on the Crown Represent the World and the Concept of Liberty
The fact that there are seven spikes on the crown of Liberty is not an accident. They are there to represent the seven seas and seven continents of the world. If you are by any chance wondering which seven seas of the world are represented, you should know that many seas were considered to be one of the seven through history. In modern times, the seven seas are generally considered to be: the Arctic Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.
The seven spikes of the crown also represent the aureole – the luminous cloud that is often seen surrounding the figures in Christian paintings (a halo).
David Copperfield Made the Statue Disappear in front of a Live Audience in 1983
Statue of Liberty facts also reveal a shocking piece of information – the mighty statue was once made to disappear. Not for real, of course, but it was a very neat trick, performed by the famous American illusionist David Copperfield. And how did he do it?
Copperfield sat his live audience on a special stage, on which he built two towers and a curtain that blocked the Statue of Liberty from view. After some time, he removed the curtain, showing his audience an empty space where the statue should have been. They were surprised, of course, but what they didn’t know at the time was that the stage was slowly turning and eventually reached such an angle that the Statue of Liberty was hidden behind one of the towers. Clever, huh?
Statue of Liberty Facts— Facts about the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, or to give it its full name, Liberty Enlightening the World, is one of the best-known monuments in the US and, indeed, the whole world. It was given to the USA by France in 1886 in order to honor the newfound freedom in the USA – a country which recently abolished slavery and offered thousands of exciting opportunities to its inhabitants. The statue was erected on what is today known as Liberty Island and is 151 feet high (301 feet with the pedestal and foundation). Its features represent the freedom of the seven seas and the seven continents of the world, but, most importantly, the possibility of progress and enlightenment for us all.