Statue of Liberty, national monument proclaimed in 1924. Located in New York City, the monument consists of two small islands, Liberty Island and Ellis Island, that lie in Upper New York Bay. The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island. Ellis Island was once the location where most immigrants entered the United States.
The Statue of Liberty is a monumental sculpture that symbolizes freedom throughout the world. Its formal name is Liberty Enlightening the World. The statue depicts a woman escaping the chains of tyranny, which lie at her feet. Her right-hand holds aloft a burning torch that represents liberty.
Her left-hand holds a tablet inscribed with the date “July 4, 1776″ (in Roman numerals), the day the United States declared its independence. She is wearing flowing robes and the seven rays of her spiked crown symbolize the seven seas and continents.
The Statue of Liberty is 46 m (151 ft) high. Its base and pedestal increase the height of the monument to 93 m (305 ft). The surface of the statue is composed of hammered copper sheets about 2.4 mm (about 0.01 in) thick that are riveted to an iron framework. The iron frame was devised by French engineer Gustave Alexandre Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The statue rests upon a concrete-and-granite pedestal designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt. A star-shaped wall surrounds the 47-m (154-ft) pedestal. This wall was part of Fort Wood, which was built in the early 19th century to defend New York during the War of 1812 (1812-1815).
The Statue of Liberty commemorates the alliance between France and the United States during the American Revolution (1775-1783). It was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and completed in July 1884. The French people donated the money for the statue. The United States built the pedestal with funds raised by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.
The statue was first exhibited in Paris, then dismantled and shipped to New York, and reassembled at its present location. U.S. President Grover Cleveland formally dedicated it on Oct. 28, 1886. The Statue of Liberty soon became an international symbol of freedom. It greeted thousands of immigrants and visitors as they entered New York Bay and arrived in the United States. In 1903 the sonnet “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus was inscribed in bronze at the base of the statue. It reads:
- Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
- With conquering limbs astride from land to land:
- Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
- A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
- Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
- Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
- Glow’s world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
- The air-bridged harbour that twin cities frame.
- “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
- With silent lips. “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!”
To prepare for the statue’s centennial year in 1986, a French-American rehabilitation project repaired and cleaned the statue, replacing its glass-and-metal torch with one covered in gold leaf.
Ferries from Battery Park in New York City take visitors to Liberty Island. Visitors ride an elevator or climb 192 steps to an observation area at the top of the pedestal. A museum inside the pedestal details the history of the monument and features the original torch and flame.
The full climb of 354 steps (the equivalent of a 22-floor building) takes the most ambitious visitors from the pedestal to the crown, which offers outstanding views of New York Harbor and New York City.
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