Sunday, July 3, 2016

1886 Statue of Liberty Dedicated in New York

On October 28, 1886, The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, is dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland was dedicated.

The Statue of Liberty's head, on exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1878.

Originally known as "Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue was proposed by the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. Its framework of gigantic steel supports was designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the latter famous for his design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty, 1876 Centennial Exposition

In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe's Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York Harbor. In June 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by President Cleveland and attended by numerous French and American dignitaries.

Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886) by Edward Moran ((1829-1901) 

On the pedestal was inscribed "The New Colossus," a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States including the declaration, "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper July 2, 1887, pp. 324-325. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

In 1892, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe's Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of "Lady Liberty." In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument, and in 1956 Bedloe's Island was renamed Liberty Island. The statue underwent a major restoration in the 1980s.

Emma Lazarus' Poem

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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