The Statue of Liberty is arguably one of New York’s most iconic landmarks; it is a structure which all regular visitors to New York, including Tunde Folawiyo, are familiar with. This enormous monument was a gift given to the people of the United States by the French, and now serves as a symbol not only of freedom and democracy, but also of peace, liberty and opportunity. It was opened to the public on the 28th of October, 1886, and was named as a National Monument 38 years later.
This structure was designed by Bartholdi, a French sculptor, as well as Gustave Eiffel, the man who created the Eiffel Tower. The French government had decided that they should offer the American people a gift, in order to honour the USA’s 100 year anniversary of Independence Day.
Bartholdi and Eiffel chose to make it as tall as they possibly could (the statue has a height of just over 305 feet). They made the skeleton of the statue from steel, after which they then covered the entire structure with thin sheets of copper. The design depicts the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas, holding a tabula ansata and a large torch; on the former, the designers inscribed the 4th of July, 1776 – the day on which the American Declaration of Independence was signed. A dismantled chain – also made from copper – lies by her feet.
Whilst the French were responsible for building the statue itself, and assembling it on Liberty Island, the Americans agreed to construct the pedestal on which the monument was to be placed. For both countries, funding became a serious issue, and they had to raise money in any way that they could; in France for instance, a lottery, entertainment events and public fees were used, whilst in the USA, prize fights, auctions, art exhibitions and theatrical events helped them to secure the required funds.
The statue has managed to withstand the test of time, having undergone only one major restoration since it was first created over 128 years ago. History enthusiasts like Tunde Folawiyo might know that at the beginning of this project, in 1984, the monument was named as a World Heritage Site. For the next two years, the statue was closed to the public, and much of the internal structure, as well as the torch, were replaced. It was re-opened in time for the Independence Day celebrations on the 4th of July, 1986.