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Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. However, the statue of Liberty was originally planned to be shipped to Egypt.

How Statue of Liberty was almost shipped to Egypt


The Egyptian version (left) of the Statue of Liberty would have stood at the entrance of the Suez Canal.The Egyptian version (left) and current version

In 1869, Frédéric Bartholdi traveled to Egypt met prince Khedive Ismail Pasha who was looking for a statue to be placed at the entrance of suez canal.HE showed him a miniature version of the monument. At that time Bartholdi presented as a Egyptian peasant structure. The peasant strucutre was supposed to hold a jar and not a torch and the skin tone was to be darker. The jar, also known as "Balfalis" by Egyptian people, is related to the ancient Egyptian Mythology and is known for its ability to increase the production of olives, cheese or honey. The lady was to symbolize the modern Egypt.

The statue was to be places at the entrance of the canal as a symbol of free navigation and friendship making Egypt the “Egypt the Beacon of Asia” , which was also planned to be carved at the pedestal of the statute. The inauguration was scheduled for November 16, 1870.

(Left) Egypt Bringing Light to Asia, (Right) Model First Lady Liberty.

Though intrigued by the idea, Khedive Ismail, was not ready to bear the enormous cost of the statue. The bill of $600,000 was too much for a country which was going through a financial crisis as it had spent all of it's funds on construction of the canal and the end of civil war in America had drastically reduced the price of cotton (Egypt's main export) Unable to justify the financial costs of such a monument, Khedive Ismail declined Bartholdi`s offer. Instead, Bartholdi donated to the Egyptians a smaller and cheaper statue of De Lesseps, the chief engineer of the Suez Canal. It was built over a span of 30 and measured a mere 9 meters.

Disappointed, Bartholdi, turned to the Americans. The overall design of the statue was the same. She would still have the helmet symbolizing the seven seas. It was still had a lady wearing a robe and holding a torch in the sky. Her other hand, however, would now hold a tabula anasta, a tablet evoking the law, symbolizing a land that is governed by the rule of law. The date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 is inscribed upon the tablet. The torch would now be called the Torch of Liberty that “enlightens the world.” The robed female figure was now reinterpreted as representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. This is how Bartholdi`s Egyptian peasant woman got her American citizenship and became the Statue of Liberty! He first presented his design to the Americans in 1870 and proposed to construct the statue in the New York harbor.

On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland, unveiled the statue in a majestic festival where he said: “We will never forget that Liberty here made her home”.

More interesting Facts

She's so heavy: The statute is made of 31 tons of copper, 125 tons of steel, and the base consists of a whopping 27,000 tons of concrete.
No fire, please: The torch has been off limits since World War I, when German saboteurs set off an explosion nearby that sent shrapnel into it and the statue's skirt.
She dances: In high winds, the Lady sways 3 inches; the torch can move up to 5 inches.
Suicide: Three people have taken their own lives in plunges from the statue, the first in—you got it—1929.
Movie star: Aside from acting as Columbia's mascot, the statue has figured prominently in films from Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock.
Vandal magnet: The crown has attracted all manner of used chewing gum and lipstick graffiti.

Current version info

The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and in New York's Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe's Island. The statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue, including the pedestal and base, was closed for a year until October 28, 2012, so that a secondary staircase and other safety features could be installed; Liberty Island remained open. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.

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