Statue of Liberty
Made in Paris by the French sculptor Bartholdi, in collaboration with Gustave Eiffel (who was responsible for the steel framework), this towering monument to liberty was a gift from France on the centenary of American independence in 1886. Standing at the entrance to New York Harbour, it has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States ever since.
Statement of Significance
The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, a hollow colossus composed of thinly pounded copper sheets over a steel framework, was designed in Paris by the French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi, in collaboration with the French engineer Gustave Eiffel, who was responsible for its frame, intended as a gift from France for the centenary of American independence in 1876. Its design and construction were recognized at the time as one of the greatest technical achievements of the 19th century, and, when finally dedicated a decade later, it was hailed as a bridge between art and engineering. Atop its pedestal, designed by noted American architect Richard Morris Hunt, on an island at the entrance to New York Harbour, the Statue has since welcomed millions of immigrants who arrived in the United States by sea.
(i) This colossal statue is a masterpiece of the human spirit. The collaboration between the sculptor Bartholdi and the engineer Eiffel resulted in the production of a technological wonder that brings together art and engineering in a new and powerful way.
(vi) The symbolic value of the Statue of Liberty lies in two basic factors. It was presented by France with the intention of affirming the historical alliance between the two nations. It was financed by international subscription in recognition of the establishment of the principles of freedom and democracy by the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which the Statue holds in her left hand. The Statue also soon became and has endured as a symbol of the migration of people from many countries into the United States in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She endures as a highly potent symbol – inspiring contemplation, debate and protest – of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity.
The Statue of Liberty is a masterpiece of the human creative spirit. Its construction in the studios of Bartholdi in Paris represents one of the greatest technical exploits of the 19th century. It welcomed immigrants at the entrance to New York harbour, and so it is directly and materially associated with an event of outstanding universal significance: the populating of the United States, the melting pot of disparate peoples in the second half of the 19th century. The fact that the statue, whose funds were raised by international subscription, was executed in Europe, by a French sculptor, strengthens the symbolic interest of this world-renowned work.
During the second half of the 19th century, the population of the United States almost doubled in 30 years, from 38,500,000 inhabitants in 1870 to 76,000,000 in 1900. This prodigious growth is principally due to immigration which reached an unprecedented high at that time. Between 1840 and 1880, 9,438,000 foreigners landed in the United States, among which, besides the British, were Germans, Irish and Scandinavian. Between 1880 and 1914, the number of immigrants reached 22,000,000, this time deriving mainly from southern and eastern Europe.
It is within this context the order was placed for the Statue of Liberty, made in Paris by the French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, in collaboration with Gustave Eiffel, who conceived and executed the metallic skeleton which was to form the interior framework. The exterior 'envelope' was composed of brass plaques, formed by hammering them in hard wood moulds made from plaster models. These plaques were then soldered and riveted together. After Bartholdi prefabricated the figure in Paris by moulding sheets of copper over a steel framework, it was shipped to the United States in 241 crates in 1885.
Some of the money to erect the statue was contributed by American schoolchildren. It is certain that for millions of immigrants who came to America in the 19th century seeking freedom, it was the fulfilment of their dreams. The sculptor also intended with his work to be an immense and impressive symbol of human liberty, and it is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy. The people of France gave the statue to the people of the United States over 100 years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution.
The Statue of Liberty, a woman holding on high a book and a 46 m long torch set on Liberty Island, situated at the entrance to New York harbour about 1 km from the landing point of the immigrants, was dedicated on 28 October 1886 and was designated a National Monument on 15 October 1924. On 8 September 1937, jurisdiction was enlarged to encompass all of Bedloe's Island and in 1956, the island's name was changed to Liberty Island. On 11 May 1965, Ellis Island was also transferred to the National Park Service and became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
'Liberty Enlightening the World' was extensively restored in time for the spectacular centennial of American independence on 4 July 1986, for whom it symbolized the ideals of Washington and Lincoln. It has continued to inspire people across the world.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC