June 19, 1885 – The Statue of Liberty Arrives

According to The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, in 1865 Edouard de Laboulaye first proposed the idea of the Statue of Liberty naming the statue “Liberty Enlightening the World”. He suggested that the French construct the statue and the Americans build the pedestal on which she would sit.

Construction of the Statue of Liberty began in 1875 in France and was completed in June 1884. French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi modeled her after his own mother. Gustave Eiffel engineered her internal structure.

Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed her granite pedestal.

The French raised their funds through a variety of means including public fees and lotteries. The United States financed the pedestal through theatrical benefits, art exhibitions, auctions and prizefights.

Lady Liberty was dismantled and shipped aboard the French frigate Isere to New York arriving on June 19, 1885. Three hundred and fifty individual pieces packed in more than two hundred cases housed this gift from the French people.

The Statue was reassembled on her new pedestal and placed where she stands today at Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor.

She holds a torch in her uplifted right hand. She cradles a tablet in her left arm inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence written in Roman numerals.

Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” is inscribed upon the base of the statue which stands 89 feet tall. Her sonnet was written as a donation to an auction of art and literary works to raise money for the pedestal’s construction. The original manuscript is held by the American Jewish Historical Society.

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,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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