Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has been a potent icon in the U.S. for more than 120 years, being the most evocative sight in New York City. Like millions of other immigrants, Italian born writer Edward Corsi's first glimpse of America was the heroic figure of Lady Liberty, her hand thrust skyward with a torch to light the way. He wrote, "Looming shadowy through the mist, it brought silence to the decks of the Florida. This symbol of America - this enormous expression of what we had all been taught was the inner meaning of this new country - inspired awe in the hopeful immigrants."

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States of America to symbolise the spirit of successful revolutions in both of their countries. In 1865, Edouard-Rene Lefevre de Laboulaye, politician and admirer of America, suggested to a young sculptor named Augusta Bartholdi that he make a large monument in honour of the French and American brotherhood. By 1874, enough money had been raised by the French, through lotteries, subscriptions and entertainment, in order to construct the statue. Funding the pedestal was slower to materialise in the U.S.; however it took a concerted campaign from Joseph Pulitzer through his newspaper, The World, to raise the necessary finance.
Gustave Eiffel, who later built the Eiffel Tower, designed the ingenious framework that supports the inner copper skin. In 1885 Bartholdi's statue, called Liberty Enlightening the World, was shipped to the U.S., and was formally dedicated in a ceremony on October 28, 1886. 

The statue is situated on 12 acre Liberty island, which is owned by the Federal government. The observation platform in the pedestal allows great views of New York and the harbour. The tablet that Liberty holds in her left hand reads, in Roman numerals, "July 4, 1776", the date of America's independence from Britain. The 25 windows in Liberty's crown symbolises the gemstones found on earth. The seven rays of the crown represent the seven seas and continents of the world. 

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