The history of the Statue of Liberty began in the 1870s. That was when the idea for the statue began to surface in France. It was a gift by the French to the United States, which was celebrating its centennial.
In 1874 the designer Auguste Bartholdi conceived the idea for the structure. There were several people who worked on it however. The skeletal frame was created under the supervision of Gustave Eiffel, who would go on to create the famous Eiffel Tower. Inspiration for the statue was derived from various sources. Most notable among its sources is Apollo and the various sun gods.
Early Models and Construction
There were several models built early in the history of the Statue of Liberty. As far back as 1870, there was already a small scale model. It has survived though and remains in a museum in France. Another structure was built and is now in Brazil.
The idea was to have the statue completed in 1876, but by that time only a few parts had been finished. However, the early parts were shipped to the United States. It was shown for a fee in Philadelphia.
The money earned from the event was used to further fund the project. Two years later in 1878, the head was displayed at the Paris Exposition. Also at this time it was decided New York harbor would be its location, marking an important point in the history of the Statue of Liberty.
Funding and Completion
Part of the funding was raised by Senator Evarts and his committee. However substantial portions were also donated by the public. This was brought about when newspaper editorials criticized the rich and middle class for not providing enough financial support.
On July 1884 in France, the structure was completed. Almost a year later on June 1885 the parts were sent to New York from France. The parts were disassembled.
There were over 300 parts contained in over 200 crates. The arm and torch were already in America at this time. A vital point in the history of the Statue of Liberty was its dedication. This took place on October 28, 1886 by United States President Grover Cleveland.
Facts about the Statue
The structure is 151 ft tall. If you include the pedestal it would be over 300 ft. The head itself is 17 ft high and its width is 10 ft. It weighs over 200 tons. The cost for the entire structure was over $800,000. That amount of course was worth much more during that time.
During its early years the structure was utilized as a lighthouse. It also holds the distinction of being the first to utilize electrical power. In 1966 it was declared a historic place. The nearby island was also renamed Liberty Island. 22 years later in 1984 the statue was declared a World Heritage Site.
The history of the Statue of Liberty is not just a gift by one country to another. It also serves as an outstanding symbol of democracy.