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When Liberty Lit the World
By David at 05/11/2009 - 05:05

When Liberty Lit the World

The Statue of Liberty, which has welcomed immigrants since 1886, is one of the greatest symbols of the United States. On an island in New York Harbor, Lady Liberty stands as the most enduring emblem of Franco-American friendship. October 28, 1886. 10,000 official guests, and an enthusiastic nation await the inauguration of the statue "Liberty Lighting the World." The statue, erected on Bedloe’s Island at the entrance to New York Harbor, commemorated France’s role in the American Revolution. Congress allocated funds for the event provided that "not one dollar be spent on spirits or tobacco." Fortunately, private enterprise easily met that demand, and the crowds were able to smoke or drink as much as they wished. When the statue was unveiled, revealing the unparalleled dimensions of the monument - 46 meters high from its base to its top and weighing 200,000 kilograms, it was the biggest monument of its type ever constructed - the American applause could be heard across the Atlantic. The sculptor, 52 year old Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was known in the United States for his statue of La Fayette. Bartholdi had given America this statue ten years before. In France, he was better known for his colossal Belfort Lion a gigantic figure sculpted in red sandstone that symbolized the heroic resistance of Alsace during the 1870 war with Prussia. Built in France in sections, the Statue of Liberty is made of copper supported by an iron skeleton constructed by Gustave Eiffel, architect of the famous tower. Its 300 separate pieces were molded and shaped in Paris, and then reassembled in New York Harbor. The statue rests on a granite pedestal 25 meters high. Money for the statue itself came from a generous subscription fund in France and its pedestal was financed by the United States.


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