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Statue of Liberty
Liberty Enlightening the World

Liberty Enlightening the World (French: La libert? ?clairant le monde), known more commonly as the Statue of Liberty (Statue de la Libert?), is a large statue that was presented to the United States by France in 1886. Originally, the statue was meant to be placed in Egypt, but the French decided to give it to America in response to their help in their war (At the time, Egypt was controlled by the British). It currently stands at Liberty Island (part of New York but physically on the New Jersey side of the New York Harbor) as a welcome to all visitors, immigrants, and returning Americans. The copper patina-clad statue, dedicated on October 28, 1886, commemorates the centennial of the United States and is a gesture of friendship from France to the U.S. Fr?d?ric Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue and obtained a U.S. patent useful for raising construction funds through the sale of miniatures. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) engineered the internal structure. Eug?ne Viollet-le-Duc was responsible for the choice of copper in the statue's construction and adoption of the repouss? technique.

The statue is of a robed woman holding a lit flame, and is made of a sheeting of pure copper, hung on a framework of steel (originally puddled iron) with the exception of the flame of the torch, which is coated in gold leaf (originally made of stained glass and lit from the inside.) It stands atop a rectangular stonework pedestal with a foundation in the shape of an irregular eleven-pointed star. The statue is 151 feet (46.02 m) tall, with the pedestal and foundation, it is 305 feet (92.96 m) tall.

Worldwide, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons of the United States, and, more generally, represents liberty and escape from oppression. The Statue of Liberty was, from 1886 until the jet age, often one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants after ocean voyages from Europe. Visually, the Statue of Liberty appears to draw inspiration from il Sancarlone or the Colossus of Rhodes.

The statue is a central part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, administered by the National Park Service.

HISTORY
Discussions in France over a suitable gift to the United States to mark the Centennial of the American Declaration of Independence were headed by the politician and sympathetic writer of the history of the United States, ?douard Ren? de Laboulaye. French sculptor Fr?d?ric Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion. The idea for the commemorative gift then grew out of the political turmoil which was shaking France at the time. The French Third Republic was still considered as a "temporary" arrangement by many, who wished a return to monarchism, or to some form of representation of republican virtues to a "sister" republic across the sea served as a focus for the republican cause against other politicians.

Fr?d?ric Bartholdi.The first model, on a small scale, was built in 1870. This first statue is now in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.

While on a visit to Egypt that was to shift his artistic perspective from simply grand to colossal, Bartholdi was inspired by the project of the Suez Canal which was being undertaken by Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, who later became a lifelong friend of his. He envisioned a giant lighthouse standing at the entrance to the canal and drew plans for it. It would be patterned after the Roman goddess Libertas, modified to resemble a robed Egyptian peasant, a fallaha, with light beaming out from both a headband and a torch thrust dramatically upward into the skies. Bartholdi presented his plans to the Egyptian Khediev, Isma'il Pasha, in 1867 and, with revisions, again in 1869, but the project was never commissioned because of financial issues the country was going through.
It was agreed upon that in a joint effort the American people were to build the base, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly in the United States. In France, public donations, various forms of entertainment including notably performances of La libert? ?clairant le monde (Liberty enlightening the world) by soon-to-be famous composer Charles Gounod at Paris Opera, and a charitable lottery were among the methods used to raise the 2,250,000 francs ($250,000). In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds.
Meanwhile in France, Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture. Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue's copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. Eiffel delegated the detailed work to his trusted structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin.
Bartholdi had initially planned to have the statue completed and presented to the United States on July 4, 1876, but a late start and subsequent delays prevented it. However, by that time the right arm and torch were completed. This part of the statue was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where visitors were charged 50 cents to climb the ladder to the balcony. The money raised this way was used to start funding the pedestal.
On June 30, 1878, at the Paris Exposition, the completed head of the statue was showcased in the garden of the Trocad?ro palace, while other pieces were on display in the Champs de Mars.
The financing for the statue was completed in France in July 1882.
Fund-raising for the pedestal, led by William M. Evarts, was going slowly, so Hungarian-born publisher Joseph Pulitzer (who established the Pulitzer Prize) opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper, The World, to support the fund raising effort in 1883. Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich, who had failed to finance the pedestal construction, and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds.Pulitzer's campaign was an important contribution to the effort, but ultimately Senator Evarts and the American Committee he headed raised the majority of funds for the pedestal.
The construction of the statue was completed in France in July 1884.
The cornerstone of the pedestal, designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt, was laid on August 5, 1884, but the construction had to be stopped by lack of funds in January 1885. It was resumed on May 11, 1885 after a renewed fund campaign by Joseph Pulitzer in March 1885. Thirty-eight of the forty-six courses of masonry were yet to be built.
The Statue arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885 on board the French frigate Is?re. To prepare for transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. (The right arm and the torch, which were completed earlier, had been exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and thereafter at Madison Square in New York City.)
Financing for the pedestal was completed on August 11, 1885 and construction was finished on April 22, 1886. When the last stone of the pedestal was swung into place the masons reached into their pockets and showered into the mortar a collection of silver coins.

Built into the pedestal's massive masonry are two sets of four iron girders, connected by iron tie beams that are carried up to become part of Eiffel's framework for the statue itself. Thus Liberty is integral with her pedestal.

The statue, which was stored for eleven months in crates waiting for its pedestal to be finished, was then re-assembled in four months' time. On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled by President Grover Cleveland in front of thousands of spectators. (Cleveland, as Governor of the State of New York, had earlier vetoed a bill by the New York legislature to contribute $50,000 to the building of the pedestal.)

The Statue of Liberty functioned as a lighthouse from 1886 to 1902. At that time the U.S. Lighthouse board was responsible for its operation. There was a lighthouse keeper and the electric light could be seen for 24 miles (39 km) at sea. There was an electric plant on the island to generate power for the light.

In 1913 a group of young pilots graduated from the Moissant School of Aviation based on Long Island. One of the graduates, the Mexican pilot Juan Pablo Aldasoro was selected to perform the first flight above the Statue of Liberty. All of the graduates later on became members of the Early Birds of Aviation

In 1916, floodlights were placed around the base of the statue. Also in 1916, the Black Tom explosion caused $100,000 worth of damage ($1.9 million in 2007 dollars) to the statue, embedding shrapnel and eventually leading to the closing of the torch to visitors. The same year, Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore, modified the original copper torch by cutting away most of the copper in the flame, retrofitting glass panes and installing an internal light.After these modifications, the torch severely leaked rainwater and snowmelt, accelerating corrosion inside the statue. President Franklin D. Roosevelt rededicated the Statue of Liberty on its 50th anniversary (October 28, 1936).

In 1956, through an act of Congress, Bedloe's Island was officially renamed Liberty Island, though Liberty Island had been used informally since the turn of the century.

As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, Statue of Liberty National Monument, along with Ellis Island and Liberty Island, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was added to the list of World Heritage Sites.

In 2007, the Statue of Liberty was one of 20 finalists in a competition to name the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Source: Wikipedia