The statue was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America. It had been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The copper and iron statue was reassembled and dedicated the following year. It has become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.
The statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated.
Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886.
At the ceremony President Cleveland said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.”
Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.
Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Over the years, it has been the site of political rallies and protests (from suffragettes to anti-war activists), has been featured in numerous movies and countless photographs, and has received millions of visitors from around the globe.