La statue de la Liberté, the outstanding work of French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is a personification of liberty. She is much more than just a statue. A friend, a living symbol of freedom to millions of people around the world, the statue of liberty is an iconic monument that stands at the entrance to harbour of New York welcoming immigrants to the United States. This exemplary statue of a robed female figure, bearing a torch and a tablet in the other hand, reading the American date of Independence, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Okay you already know all that, right? Haven’t we been reading about her since the third grade? While you think you are very familiar with the colossus, there are many facts about the statue that will leave you awestruck. Don’t believe me? Have a look for yourself! Here are 20 Fascinating facts about the Statue of Liberty.
20. The interior remains closed:
The statue’s interior was open to public till September 11, 2001. Tourists can climb up to the pedestal and the area around but it’s crown remains closed after the 9/11 attacks for security purposes. Officials say that the statue has been closed because it possesses fire hazard threats. Its base was reopened in 2004 after $20 million were invested to improve fire safety and evacuation routes. But today, the government has no intention of reopening the crown for public view.
19. Renovation for disabled people:
The Statue was closed in October 2011 to go under some renovation intended to make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate through it. On its 126th birthday, people with wheelchairs were able to visit the statue. Renovations included an emergency elevator and a new staircase.
18. The statue functioned as light house:
The statue was originally supposed to be a lighthouse but engineers could never make it possible for a long time. It was an innovative step at that time, to light its lamp for navigational purposes. It became functional as a lighthouse on November 22, 1886 and functioned as one till 16 years. The lamps could be seen 24 miles out in the sea.
17. Tallest Iron structure ever made:
In 1886, it was the tallest iron structure ever built and erected. It also had the largest use of copper in a single monument at that time.
16. Originally designed for Egypt:
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of Statue of Liberty, intended for the statue to be built for the entrance of Suez Canal. Bartholdi had visited Egypt and wanted to create a work as mesmerising as the Pyramids and Sphinx. The leader of Egypt did not seem very pleased by the offer and thus it fell upon the hands of Americans.
15. The statue was almost painted:
There was a time when the US government even considered painting the statue as it was turning blueish-green because of the formation of copper oxides. Some politicians thought it was degrading its beauty and must be painted. But a public outcry stopped them from painting this magnanimous green-tinged beauty.
14. Shoe size:
This beauty has a waistline of 35 feet and a gigantic shoe size of 879! And you’re scared of big foot? Ha!
13. Americans were not excited about the statue:
No matter how ungrateful this may sound, it’s the truth. It took America 15 years to finally embrace this iconic statue, it is most famous for. Bartholdi had to open a fund raiser to assemble and complete the monument and America was very slow and uninterested in this field.
12. Boston wanted to take the statue:
When the fundraising was almost failing in New York, Boston showed excitement and support for the statue to be erected in their city. When people of New York came to know about this, they grew more concerned about it as it was being snatched away from their hands. The statue remained in New York as they sped up the fundraiser.
11. Proposed to be covered in gold:
Bartholdi wanted the statue to be covered by a thin layer of gold and not copper. Why? Well, Bartholdi thought the statue will not be visible in the dark if covered with copper, whereas, gold would make it more noticeable. The idea was rejected as the statue alone costed a lot of money, there wasn’t enough time or fund to get this idea worked upon.
10. Women protested the unveiling of statue:
The statue is a female figure that symbolizes freedom. This angered many suffragettes, as at the time there wasn’t even the right to vote for women, let alone any other liberty. As a matter of fact, on the unveiling of the statue, only 2 women showed up, Bartholdi’s wife and famous French Engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps’s 13-year old daughter.
09. The blue-green tinge is preserving the statue:
The copper patina which gives the statue a blue-green colour is actually preserving it! It patina is made due to copper’s exposure to air forming a copper-oxide. But this oxidised copper layer actually prevents the statue from getting oxidized further.
08. Has an extremely thin copper layer:
Many of us know the Statue of Liberty to be made of copper. Probably because the ‘copper-oxide thing’ make a lot of headlines? Whatever the reason is, let me tell you the truth today. The statue only has a thin layer of copper over its iron structure. When I say thin, I mean 3/32th part of an inch! Yes, that thin!
07. It stands on chains and shackles:
Although this is not visible clearly to the visitors, but the statue actually stands on broken shackles and chains, symbolizing independence, liberty, the freedom from oppression and the United States’ abolition of slavery.
06. Philadelphia almost got the statue:
The monument’s torch was exhibited in a world fair at Philadelphia. The visitors paid commission to see it. This collected enough money to build the head of statue. Bartholdi was so pleased by Philadelphia’s interest, he thought of gifting it to them.
05. Libertas, the Roman goddess of Liberty:
The lady in the statue is none other than Libertas, the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. Statue of liberty is not the only famous statue made in her name, the Great Seal of France also depicts goddess Libertas.
04. The Torch changed three times:
In 1984, the original torch was replaced by a new cooper torch covered with a think gold layer. It was then changed to introduce portholes for light to be illuminated from inside and be visible. Thi idea failed and Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, added glass panels but that failed too. So, the original gold clad flame was restored in 1986.
03. Thomas Edison wanted to make it ‘talk’:
Edison wanted the statue to deliver speeches by installing a phonograph in the statue’s interior. Thinking it would be rather strange for a statue to talk, the idea was never further considered.
02. Spikes in her crown are symbolic:
The seven spikes in Liberta’s crown are not just beautiful ornamental pieces, they are a representation of 7 continents and 7 seas around the world.
01. Was not a gift from France:
Contrary to popular belief, Statue of Liberty was not really a gift from France to America. It was Bartholdi who wanted to build a colossus that was to be remembered and celebrated for ages. He initially planned it for Egypt’s Suez Canal but after the proposal getting rejected, America became his priority. The government did not significantly fund it and Bartholdi was expected to raise money for the monument on an individual level. It was Pulitzer, a newspaper publisher who helped him raise money for the statue.
Rome was not built in a day, afterall. The beautiful statue we see today, has gone through a number of changes and hardships. A symbol of liberty, the statue is a masterpiece of colossal statuary.