The Statue of Liberty is a monumental neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor within New York City, in the United States. The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was created by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower. On October 28, 1886, the statue was dedicated.
The statue is a depiction of Libertas, a Roman goddess of liberty wearing a robe. She raises her torch overhead with her right hand, and in her left she carries a tabula ansata inscribed JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776, written in Roman numerals), the date of the United States’ Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence. The chains and shackles that once bound her are lying in a tangled heap at her feet, a silent reminder of the recent abolishment of slavery. It became an icon of freedom and the United States after its dedication, which caused many immigrants to consider it a symbol of welcome for people who were arriving by sea.
Bartholdi was greatly inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have made a political statement in 1865 asserting that the U.S. had a moral obligation to construct a monument to its independence in cooperation with France. Progress was delayed because of the Franco-Prussian War, which started in 1870. Laboulaye and others suggested that France and Prussia share the costs of erecting the statue and provide the site, and the United States would bear the expense of building the pedestal. The final design for the statue was not fully determined at the time Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm. These components were exhibited at international expositions to gain publicity for the project.
The torch-bearing arm was on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and was on display in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Due to the fact that raising money proved difficult, especially for the Americans, by 1885 the work on the pedestal was under threat due to a lack of funds. New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer used a newspaper campaign to raise money for the project, and managed to garner more than 120,000 donors, almost all of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was built in France, and it was shipped overseas in crates. Once it arrived, it was brought together on the pedestal, which was previously called Bedloe’s Island. A ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony were celebrated after the statue was completed in New York City, with the first president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, officiating.
The statue was under the administration of the Lighthouse Board from 1901 to the time of the formation of the Department of War, and then by the US Army as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, which it has remained under since 1933. As a result, the statue is considered to be a major tourist attraction. In March 2020, the monument was closed for public health reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened in June of the same year. There is no public access to the balcony around the torch, which has been off limits since 1916.