“Lady Liberty” is one of the most famous statues in the world. More than 130 years ago, on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was inaugurated in New York Harbor.
As soon as we can visit the USA again, one place will be at the top of the list of all New York tourists: the Statue of Liberty. “Lady Liberty” was inaugurated in New York Harbor more than 130 years ago. Today it is more than just an attraction – it has become a symbol for the free world. Here are 12 curious facts about one of the most famous statues in the world.
The statue itself is officially recognized as a National Monument of New York State. In fact, Liberty Island, on which the statue stands, is located in the waters of the directly adjacent state of New Jersey. As reported by the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors (NJSPLS), the fact that New York has had jurisdiction over Liberty Island and the nearby island of Ellis Island since 1884, while New Jersey controls the waters around the islands. When both islands were artificially enlarged, Ellis Island was divided between the two states by a ruling in 1987. However, no decision has ever been made about the affiliation of Liberty Island.
Actually, the green lady with the torch in her hand wasn’t green at all. Researchers believe it was originally dark brown. The statue consists of a frame made of iron. There’s a layer of copper around it – and it was actually brown. The scientists believe that the color only lasted about 20 years. Then the outer skin of the statue was weathered and rusted and gradually turned green.
The statue with the full name “Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift from France to the USA, albeit only partially. France was responsible for the statute and the USA for the base. Because fundraising was extremely slow on both sides of the Atlantic, the gift came ten years too late – it was actually supposed to be inaugurated on the 100th anniversary of American independence in 1876.
In 1878 the head was shown at the world exhibition in Paris. Then the statue was dismantled into 350 parts and transported in 214 boxes with the freighter “Isere” through stormy weather across the Atlantic. It was reassembled within four months. In front of thousands of spectators, then US President Grover Cleveland inaugurated the statue on October 28, 1886, in New York Harbor.
The Statue of Liberty has its own island called Liberty Island, which is about 2.5 kilometers from the southern tip of Manhattan. Although the water around the island already belongs to the state of New Jersey, the state of New York is responsible for Liberty Island. There used to be a fortress on the island and it was originally called Bedloe Island. It was not officially renamed Liberty Island until 1956.
People have lived on the island for more than 200 years, albeit never many. Since the beginning of 2014, however, “Lady Liberty” has been living there alone after her last neighbor, the inspector David Luchsinger, retired. For four years Luchsinger lived with his wife Debbie in a small building on the famous island and worked as the caretaker of the statue. Hurricane “Sandy” destroyed the couple’s house so badly in 2012 that the Luchsingers had to be temporarily relocated. The statue’s caretakers no longer live on Liberty Island.
The Statue of Liberty itself was also slightly damaged by “Sandy”, but has now been repaired and ready for a visit. In strong winds, the statue can rock back and forth almost eight centimeters, the torch even twelve.
The statue was designed by the French Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. It represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. Bartholdi allegedly modeled his mother’s face.
The torch was originally intended to serve as a lighthouse. Scientists tinkered with it for years but just couldn’t get it bright enough.
Therefore the torch has no function now. 100 years ago, the right arm was also damaged in a bomb attack by German saboteurs. Since then, only the caretaker has been allowed to climb a long, wobbly ladder into the torch.
The statue is 46 meters high without a pedestal, the nose 1.37 meters long. “Lady Liberty” wears a robe, has a plaque with the date of American independence in her left hand, and holds up her right hand with a torch. She wears a seven-point crown on her head – one for each continent. Made of foam rubber, the crown is a popular tourist disguise.
Even if it seems as if the Statue of Liberty is standing – “Lady Liberty” is not standing, she is going. Your right foot is raised. There are broken chains around the feet as a symbol of liberation.
The statue has many twin sisters in other cities, including one in Alsace. The replica in the city of Colmar is made of synthetic resin and is only 12 meters high. Like its big sister in New York, it stands at the entrance to the city and has welcomed those arriving there since 2004. Why in Colmar? Designer Bartholdi was born in the Alsatian town in 1834. While Bartholdi worked on the statue for years, the replica was completed within nine months over 100 years later.
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