For millions of immigrants, the trip to America often means leaving behind family, friends, and culture. As a country built on immigration, America is home to people representing over 200 countries, from every far-flung corner of the globe. From its completion in 1886 to the present, the Statue of Liberty represents all that is great about America. Today, the Statue of Liberty receives 5 million visitors a year.
According to the official history, the statue itself was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. During the American Revolutionary War, France supported the fight against Great Britain. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, the French government commissioned the statue. The actual construction of the statue was a joint effort between the two governments. France would build the statue with the United States building the pedestal.
The commission for the design of statue was given to French artist and sculptor Fredric-Augusta Bartholdi. The design of the statue’s exterior was one thing, but the enormous framework required to support the statue required the talents of a structural engineer. Bartholdi enlisted the help of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel was the architect of the Eiffel Tower that bears his name.
Looking at the Statue of Liberty gives one the impression of strength and heft. Not immediately visible is the thickness of the statue’s exterior. The copper cladding that makes up the shape of the statue is roughly equivalent to the thickness of two pennies. While the thickness of two pennies may not seem like much, the total amount of copper used to make the skin of the statue is over 30 tons.
The skin and framework of the statue was completed in 1884 and arrived in New York one year later. Made up of 350 individual pieces, the statue was shipped in over 200 shipping crates. Transported aboard a French freighter, the great statue arrived in New York in the summer of 1885. Construction of the pedestal was completed in the spring of 1886. Despite the number of components, the final assembly took just four months to complete. The relative ease of assembly is a testimony to the statue’s design. Officially dedicated in 1886, the Statue of Liberty towers over 300 feet above New York harbor.
The torch is considered a symbol of enlightenment and tolerance. During a restoration in the 1980’s the flame of the torch, which is made of copper received a coating of 24-carat gold leaf. In addition to the torch, Lady Liberty holds a tablet, which symbolizes the rule of law. The tablet is inscribed with the date July 4, 1776 honoring the Declaration of Independence. Her crown features seven pointed spires, which represent rays of light, the seven seas, and the seven continents of the world.