The Statue of Liberty doesn’t have origins in America. The people of France gifted it to us, and since then, it has become a staple in the United States tourism and culture. The iconic statue arrived in New York in 1885 while 200,000 people stood and watched the French boat Isére bring it in the harbor. Dive in and learn some of the more exciting things you didn’t know like who’s face they modeled the statue after.
Do You Know Her True Name?
We’ve grown accustomed to calling this American landmark the Statue of Liberty, but we should consider her real name. According to her designer Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, her actual name is Liberty Enlightening the World.
Its former name is quite long-winded whereas the current name almost rolls off the tongue. Next time you hear someone call her the Statue of Liberty you can now correct him or her and reveal the real name.
The Big Climb
Up until 1916, if you had the courage, tourists were able to climb to the top of the torch. Things changed after the Black Tom incident. During this incident, an explosion happened on Black Tom Island.
The explosion had the power of a 5.5 earthquake and sent shrapnel flying across the sky, shattering windows up to 25 miles away. The torch got closed down mainly due to the damage from the explosion.
An Egyptian Placement
Designer Bartholdi didn’t plan for his creation to come to America. He visited Egypt as a young man and fell in love with a project they had underway, digging a channel between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Bartholdi met with the leader of Egypt, Khedive, and pitched him the idea of building something as remarkable as the pyramids. The deal fell through, and Bartholdi took his talents to America.
The Military’s Home
The star-shaped based used to be more than just a pedestal. It housed military families from 1818 to the mid-1930s. The families usually included young children.
One former resident named James Hill recalled his time there. He said he and his sister would drop baseballs from the crown only to see how high they could bounce.
A Mused Mother
Many great art pieces often get inspired by a woman in the artist’s life. A wife or even a distant lover have inspired many great artistic things in the past. The Statue of Liberty is no different.
Charlotte Bartholdi provided her son with the right inspiration. He modeled it after her, but he didn’t forget about his wife. She also posed as an option.
The Statue Almost Stayed In Philly
Before construction of the statue was completed, it had a home in Philadelphia to help increase funds. People visited the statue, climbed the top of the torch, and took in the view. Soon enough, the appropriate funds were raised, and the head of the statue was built.
While in Philadelphia, Lady Liberty gathered a lot of attention. Bartholdi enjoyed all the love it received and thought about keeping her in the City of Brotherly Love.
Boston Made a Play at the Statue
The statue had more construction underway in Paris after leaving Philadelphia. Fundraising in New York had slowed down a bit at this point, and Boston saw an opportunity.
The New York Times reported, “[Boston] proposes to take our neglected statue of Liberty and warm it over for her own use and glory. Boston has probably again overestimated her powers. This statue is dear to us, though we have never looked upon it, and no third-rate town is going to step in and take it from us.” Maybe Boston should have tried harder.
Is It A Lighthouse?
After Ulysses Grant authorized the use of Liberty Island for the Statue of Liberty, he proposed that it should be a lighthouse. Thus, giving it a purpose and making it available for government funding.
Engineers couldn’t incorporate enough light in it so that plan got spoiled. Bartholdi grew upset with this. As time carried on, they realized that Liberty Island is too far inland for the statue to be a functional lighthouse anyway.
Those Aren’t Her Spikes
The seven spikes you see weren’t originally on the Statue of Liberty’s head. And it isn’t a crown, it’s meant to be a halo. The seven spikes represent the world’s seven seas and continents. They were removed briefly in 1938 to replace the rusted parts.
The Golden Statue?
Bartholdi had even more plans for his masterpiece. He wanted to cover the Statue of Liberty in gold so that it could be visible after dark. This idea understandably would cost a pretty penny.
Thanks to the difficulty of raising the standard funds of having the statue constructed, covering it in gold fell out of the equation. Bartholdi might have never generated enough to get the gold.
Thomas Edison Wanted There To Be Speech
The genius of Thomas Edison blessed the entire world. He also wanted to bring life to the lifeless. After Edison offered the world the phonograph, he told newspapers even bigger things were on the way.
Edison planned to make a “monster disc” for the inside of the figure. If this had happened, the statue would have been able to give speeches heard across the bay and up to the northern part of Manhattan.
Where’s Their Freedom?
Women’s rights groups did not support the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. They felt it strange for a large lady figure representing liberty to stand tall, and they had no freedom to vote.
The only two women to attend the big event were Bartholdi’s wife and the daughter of the engineer who designed the Suez Canal.
A Central Location
Bartholdi had two locations in mind before deciding on Liberty Island. Upon arriving in New York, he thought Brooklyn’s Prospect Park could host his statue. Central Park had just got built, so that was a consideration as well.
If he had stuck with Central Park, one of New York’s most prominent apartment complexes the Dakota wouldn’t have even reached the statue’s big toe.
She Has Many Nicknames
Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Earlier we discussed what the original name of the Statue of Liberty is. Did you know the name we commonly call it is merely a nickname? In fact, there are several nicknames.
Here are the other alias’ she has: Grande Dame, Green Goddess, The Lady Higher Up, Lady of the Harbor, Lady on a Pedestal, Lady with a Torch, Mother of Exiles, Mother of Freedom, Saint Liberty, America’s Freedom, America’s Great Lady, Aunt Liberty, Bartholdi’s Daughter, Giant Goddess, and the Spirit of American Independence.
She Started A Trend
Before the dedication ceremony, the Statue of Liberty had an inauguration in the form of a huge Manhattan parade. Tons of people filled the street to celebrate the new structure in NYC that was sure to become iconic.
Excited day traders from the Stock Exchange started throwing down torn up ticker tape from their windows. This started the New York tradition: the ticker tape parade.
It Wasn’t Always Green…
The natural color for this masterful creation isn’t green. You wouldn’t believe it, but the Statue of Liberty started off as a dull copper brown color.
Over time, copper oxidizes and changes. It turns from brown to the green-like color we now see to help protect from deteriorating more. The full green color took form by 1906.
A Sign Of Freedom
Many details on the statue are hard to spot, especially if you aren’t aware of them. Do you what’s going on with the Mother of Freedom’s feet?
You can hardly see it, but she is standing around broken shackles and chains. Her right foot has a slight raise also, which symbolizes her moving away from slavery and oppression.
She Loves Lightning
If you had to guess how many times Lady Liberty gets hit with lightning, you’d probably choose incorrectly. They say lightning never strikes twice, but Lady Liberty defies this rule… by a long shot!
Reports are that the Statue of Liberty gets hit with 600 bolts per year. A photographer finally got this image after years of trying in 2010. We believe it’s time well spent attempting to get a photo like this- pretty incredible!
That’s A Lot Of Pieces!
How did you imagine the Statue of Liberty arrived in America since it didn’t get built in the U.S.? Well, it didn’t come fully-scaled, and workers had an extraordinary project ahead of them.
She was shipped from France in 350 pieces. The pieces were packed in 214 boxes and placed on a boat. That has to be the worst unpacking job ever.
A Sister Statue?
The idea of having a statue in Egypt didn’t die. After the initial deal ended, there were still talks about placing an entirely different figure at the entrance to the Suez Canal that would have got called “Egypt Carrying Light to Asia.”
A veiled Egyptian peasant woman holding a lantern was in the plans, but the idea got shut down again because of the pricing.