Sunday, May 22, 2011

Home of the Free! (Sings the Lady Liberty)

Today we will learn about the famous, Lady Liberty, otherwise known as the Statue of Liberty. For over one hundred years, the statue of liberty has represented freedom to millions around the world. She sits upon Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City, NY.

I've always thought it what it would be like to see her if you were an immigrant traveling to the United States. Especially back in the early 1900s. After months of crammed living quarters, (for most people) not the best food, sea sickness, etc, you pull into the harbor and there is the beautiful statue. The statue shines in the setting sun. You sigh a breath of relief, you have finally made it to the United States and hopefully in a matter of hours you will also be free.

The statue of liberty has also fascinated me to some degree. It was originally a gift from France, designed there, built, then dissembled and shipped to America where it was put back together. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor, designed the statue along with help of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (to whom we learned about last Sunday). It was a present from France because of the friendship that had developed between America and France during the revolutionary war and was suppose to be completed on 1876 to celebrate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.

It was a joint project between the two countries, with America to build the pedestal on which the statue stands, and France to build and assemble the statue here in America. But funding to build the famous statue became a problem. So Joseph Pulitzer (renowned for the Pulitzer Prize), decided to help raise funds by calling the rich selfish and the middle class also selfish in his paper The World. His tactic was successful in getting the American people to donate money.

When the statue was dissembled for transit, it was put into 350 pieces and arrived in 214 crates. Four months later, the statue stood proudly on her pedestal. On October 28, 1886, she was dedicated to America ten years later than planned.

Fun facts of the day:

  • The total height from the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch is 305 feet and six inches.
  • The statue herself is 111 feet and six inches. (Notice a six inch theme going on here)
  • The tablet in her hand is inscribed with the date July IV MDCCLXXVI (And for those, unlike me, who don't read roman numerals, it reads July 4, 1776).
  • The seven points on her crown represent each of the seven continents. 
  • The statue of liberty weighs 225 tons or 450,000 pounds. 
  • Broken shackles representing oppression and tyranny lie at the feet of the statue. 
  • During the restoration in 1986, the new torch was carefully covered with thin sheets of 24k gold. (the old one can be seen in the statue's lobby)
  • The exterior copper covering of the Statue of Liberty is 3/32 of an inch thick (less than the thickness of two pennies) and the light green color (called a patina) is the result of weathering of the copper.
Inside the statue are also exhibits to visit. Each exhibits talk about the statue herself and her torch. Unfortantly, we cannot go into the torch and look out anymore.

Well, that's all I have for today, so tune in next time for more fun and interesting facts!
Have you ever visited the statue of liberty? Do you have any relatives who have or went past it when they came to America? Do you know of any other cool monuments I could blog about? What's the coolest place you've visited and why?


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