The statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor within New York City, in the United States.
Inaugurated in 1886, the statue is 305 feet tall and represents Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals, the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A broken shackle and chain lie at her feet as she walks forward, commemorating the recent national abolition of slavery. After its dedication, the statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, seen as a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea.
The statue is actually a gift from French people to the people of the United States, it was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel.
The statue’s original name was “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” and it was conceived as a gift by French historian Édouard de Laboulaye in 1865, just months after the Civil War ended, to honor the United States’ new ideals of democracy and the emancipation of the country’s slaves. In 1871, French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi supported the proposal and was picked as the artist of the statue. French supporters raised money to build the statue, and Americans paid for the pedestal it would stand on. The statue changed and had improvements over the years. In 1907, the first elevator was installed inside it, and in 1916, it was illuminated for the first time after being converted to electric power. It would go dark for two years during World War II, due to blackout regulations. The torch was replaced entirely in the 1980s. Today, the statue is visited by approximately 4 million people each year.
In 2012, I was lucky enough to see it live and visit it. I remember being struck by the beauty and majesty and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I was with my family and we were all fascinated. Thinking back to its history, I grasp the richness and significance of its details such as its position leaning forward to welcome immigrants from the sea and as a symbol of hope after the abolition of slavery. It is not by chance that it was donated at the end of the Civil War and not by chance that its original name was ‘the statue of liberty enlightening the world’.