The Statue of Liberty is a colossal copper sculpture on Liberty Island in New York City, the statue had been a welcoming sight to numerous immigrants arriving New York Harbor, it gradually become an icon of freedom and of the United States.
The Statue of Liberty is depicted as a woman dressed in flowing robes, she holds a torch over head with her right hand, and carries a tablet with her left hand.
The woman represents Libertas, the goddess of freedom worshiped in ancient Rome, the figure was also depicted on the Great Seal of France and most American coins of that time, it can also be seen atop the dome of the United States Capitol Building.
The Statue of Liberty is 305 feet (93 meters) tall, measured from the bottom of the base to tip of the torch. Though it's not as tall as New York's skyscrapers, it is still quite tall for a statue. If pedestal and foundation are not counted, the statue itself is 151 feet (46 meters) in height, including the right arm and the torch, without them the figure is 111 feet (34 meters) tall measured from her heel to top of her head. By total height the Statue of Liberty is one of the top 10 tallest statues in the world.
It is said that the statue's face was modeled after that of the sculptor's mother. The statue's head is crowned with a diadem, which has seven radial rays forming an aureole, the rays represent the sun, the seven seas and the seven continents, they together with the statue's torch signify conception of the statue, Liberty enlightens the world.
The tablet in the statue's left hand is inscribed with Roman numerals of "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI" (July 4, 1776), the date of the country's Declaration of Independence.
The statue is actually depicted as walking forward with the right foot slightly raised, a broken chain lies at the feet is partly hidden by the robes, the chain is difficult to be seen from the ground.
The pedestal on which the statue is standing on was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the pedestal is a truncated pyramid, 89 feet (27 m) in height, 62 feet (19 m) square at the base and 39.4 feet (12.0 m) at the top. The pedestal is built on a large base, which is shaped in an eleven-point star, it and the pedestal were aligned to make the statue to face southeast, greeting vessels entering New York Harbor.
As a copper statue, the Statue of Liberty originally had a copper color, but because of oxidation the statue's skin started being covered by patina in the beginning of 20 Century, gradually turned the statue's color to green, however, patina is proved to be able to protect the skin from collision.
The idea of erecting a statue in New York Harbor was first conceived in 1860s. After Union's victory in the American Civil War in 1865, the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, Édouard René de Laboulaye, proposed that a monument be built for the United States on behalf France, to honor the achievements of freedom and democracy in the United States. Laboulaye hoped that the monument would inspire French people to fight for their own freedom and democracy.
It was Laboulaye's proposal inspired Frédéric Bartholdi, a sculptor, to design and build the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi chose the Bedloe's Island(Today's Liberty Island) in New York Harbor as the site to have his sculpture erected on, for the fact that the vessels arriving in New York must sail past the island, it's an ideal place for his sculpture to have a great visibility.
The Statue of Liberty was designed in the early years of 1870s, after that the project of building the statue was announced by Laboulaye in 1875, when the statue was given its full name, Liberty Enlightening the World. Laboulaye stated that the statue would be financed by the French and the pedestal of the statue is expected to be financed by American.
To structurally support such a giant statue, Gustave Eiffel (who best known for his work of the Eiffel Tower) designed and built the interior support structure for the statue, the structure is an iron truss pylon, it acts as the skeleton of the statue, on which segments of the statue's copper skin are attached.
The statue was completed in 1884 in France. To transport the statue to America, the statue was first built and disassembled into pieces to be transported to New York, and then be reassembled in place on Bedloe's Island. The vessel that holds dissembled statue arrived the New York port in June 1885, reassembly of the statue didn't began immediately as the pedestal for the statue was not complete yet. The construction of the pedestal faced difficulties in obtaining funds, which mostly came from donations. The pedestal was finally completed in April 1886, then the reassembly of the statue began, the work took several months to complete. After that the Statue of Liberty was fully completed and was dedicated on October 28 1886.
The dedication ceremony was presided over by President Grover Cleveland, many statesmen and officials of the committee related to building of the statue attended the ceremony, sculptor of the statue Bartholdi unveiled the statue by lowering a French flag which was covering its face.
In 1956, the Bedloe Island was renamed to Liberty Island for the Statue of Liberty. The statue was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Island are opened to public for sightseeing, the statue is one of the most visited tourist attraction in New York City, attracting about 4 million people every year.
Visitors can walk around the Liberty Island to get close views of the Statue of Liberty from different perspectives, and it's free if the tourist doesn't choose to get into the statue itself. The only cost is on the ferry service, which is the only way to get to the island, as private boats are not allowed to dock at the island.
The ferry system is operated by Statue Cruises, the ferries depart from two locations, which are Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Visitors can also enter into the Statue of Liberty to access to different levels in the statue, the accessible areas include a museum in the pedestal, an observation platform near the roof of the pedestal, and the other observation platform in the crown of the statue, the admission tickets for the observation platform in the crown must be reserved in advance, as only 240 people are permitted to ascend to there every day.
Access to the balcony around the torch was available, but has been barred for safety since 1916.