In 1886, The Statue of Liberty Monument was a given to the United States from France to celebrate the friendship the two endured during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized the freedom and the democracy of the United States.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design the Statue Sculpture with the completion date of 1876 to celebrate American’s centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The Statue of Liberty was to be a joint effort between the United States and France. France would build and design the Statue and the United States would complete the pedestal that would hold Lady Liberty. Bartholdi needed an engineer to address the structural issues with designing the sculpture so Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) assisted with getting the Statue to stand upright.
Coming up with the funding to create the Statue of Liberty would prove to be tedious for both sides. In France, entertainment, public fees and a national lottery would help with the funding. In the United States, things were much slower. Auctions, various forms of entertainment, and fights would help provide some of the funding. Joseph Pulitzer decided he needed to get the attention of the American people to get the necessary money. So, he took out an editorial in his newspaper putting pressure on the rich and middle class to help fund this important icon for America. On August 1885, the financing in the United States for the pedestal was complete and the construction was finished in April 1886. In France the Statue was finished in 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor by 1885 aboard the French vessel “Isere”.
In order to get the Statue of Liberty to the United States the Statue was broken down into 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. On October 28, 1886 the Statue of Liberty dedication took place. This was ten years later than the initial completion date that was supposed to celebrate the centennial of 1876. The Statue of Liberty was placed on the granite pedestal in the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood.
Until 1901, the Statue of Liberty was the responsibility of the United States Lighthouse Board. In 1901, the war department took control of the Statue of Liberty. On October 15th, 1924 a Presidential Proclamation declared Fort Wood and the Statue of Liberty a National Monument. In 1933, The National Monument was placed in care of the National Park Service and a few years later the jurisdiction of the Monument would include all of Bedloe’s Island. By 1956, the island’s name changed to Liberty Island.
Ellis Island was transferred into the National Park Service in 1965 and became part of the Statue of Liberty Monument. President Ronald Reagan wanted to restore the Statue of Liberty in 1982. Fundraising for an $87 million-dollar restoration of the Statue of Liberty would take place between the National Park Service and Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. In 1984, the United Nations declared the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site, and the completion of the restoration of the Statue was complete on July 5th, 1986, which celebrated her centennial.
The Statue of Liberty was closed 100 days after September 11, 2001. The grounds reopened but the Statue remained closed until August 2004. Today visitors have access to the Statue’s pedestal observation deck a, promenade, museum, the area of Ft. Wood and Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty inscription is The Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus.” The American poet wrote the poem to help raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the monument in 1883. It was eventually engraved on a bronze plaque in 1903 just 20 years after it was written.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your Huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
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