Statue Of Liberty

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The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.
Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and in New York's Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe's Island. The statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue, including the pedestal and base closed beginning on October 29, 2011, for up to a year so that a secondary staircase and other safety features can be installed; Liberty Island remains open. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.
The origin of the Statue of Liberty project is generally traced to a comment made by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye in mid-1865. In after-dinner conversation at his home near Versailles, Laboulaye, an ardent supporter of the Union in the American Civil War, stated: "If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial to their independence, I should think it only natural if it were built by united effort—a common work of both our nations."
Laboulaye's comment was not intended as a proposal, but it inspired a young sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, who was present at the dinner. Given the repressive nature of the regime of Napoleon III, Bartholdi took no immediate action on the idea except to discuss it with Laboulaye. Instead, Bartholdi approached Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, with a plan to build a huge lighthouse in the form of an ancient Egyptian female fellah or peasant, robed and holding a torch aloft, at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal in Port Said. Sketches and models were made of the proposed work, though it was never erected. There was a classical precedent for the Suez proposal, the Colossus of Rhodes: an ancient bronze statue of the Greek god of the sun, Helios. This statue is believed to have been over 100 feet (30 m) high, and it similarly stood at a harbor entrance and carried a light to guide ships.
The American project was further delayed by the Franco-Prussian War, in which Bartholdi served as a major of militia. In the war, Napoleon III was captured and deposed. Bartholdi's home province of Alsace was lost to the Prussians, and a more liberal republic was installed in France. As Bartholdi had been planning a trip to the United States, he and Laboulaye decided the time was right to discuss the idea with influential Americans. In June 1871, Bartholdi crossed the Atlantic, with letters of introduction signed by Laboulaye.
Arriving at New York Harbor, Bartholdi focused on Bedloe's Island as a site for the statue, struck by the fact that vessels arriving in New York had to sail past it. He was delighted to learn that the island was owned by the United States government—it had been ceded by the New York State Legislature in 1800 for harbor defense. It was thus, as he put it in a letter to Laboulaye: "land common to all the states." As well as meeting many influential New Yorkers, Bartholdi visited President Ulysses S. Grant, who assured him that it would not be difficult to obtain the site for the statue. Bartholdi crossed the United States twice by rail, and met many Americans whom he felt would be sympathetic to the project. But he remained concerned that popular opinion on both sides of the Atlantic was insufficiently supportive of the proposal, and he and Laboulaye decided to wait before mounting a public campaign.


Bartholdi's Lion of Belfort
Bartholdi had made a first model of his concept in 1870. The son of a friend of Bartholdi's, American artist John La Farge, later maintained that Bartholdi made the first sketches for the statue during his U.S. visit at La Farge's Rhode Island studio. Bartholdi continued to develop the concept following his return to France. He also worked on a number of sculptures designed to bolster French patriotism after the defeat by the Prussians. One of these was the Lion of Belfort, a monumental sculpture carved in sandstone below the fortress of Belfort, which during the war had resisted a Prussian siege for over three months. The defiant lion, 73 feet (22 m) long and half that in height, displays an emotional quality characteristic of Romanticism, which Bartholdi would later bring to the Statue of Liberty.
Bartholdi and Laboulaye considered how best to express the idea of American liberty. In early American history, two female figures were frequently used as cultural symbols of the nation. One, Columbia, was seen as an embodiment of the United States in the manner that Britannia was identified with the United Kingdom and Marianne came to represent France. Columbia had supplanted the earlier figure of an Indian princess, which had come to be regarded as uncivilized and derogatory toward Americans. The other significant female icon in American culture was a representation of Liberty, derived from Libertas, the goddess of freedom widely worshipped in ancient Rome, especially among emancipated slaves. A Liberty figure adorned most American coins of the time, and representations of Liberty appeared in popular and civic art, including Thomas Crawford's Statue of Freedom (1863) atop the dome of the United States Capitol Building.
Artists of the 18th and 19th centuries striving to evoke republican ideals commonly used representations of Liberty. A figure of Liberty was also depicted on the Great Seal of France. However, Bartholdi and Laboulaye avoided an image of revolutionary liberty such as that depicted in Eugène Delacroix's famed Liberty Leading the People (1830). In this painting, which commemorates France's Revolution of 1830, a half-clothed Liberty leads an armed mob over the bodies of the fallen. Laboulaye had no sympathy for revolution, and so Bartholdi's figure would be fully dressed in flowing robes. Instead of the impression of violence in the Delacroix work, Bartholdi wished to give the statue a peaceful appearance and chose a torch, representing progress, for the figure to hold.
Crawford's statue was designed in the early 1850s. It was originally to be crowned with a pileus, the cap given to emancipated slaves in ancient Rome. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, a Southerner who would later serve as president of the Confederate States of America, was concerned that the pileus would be taken as an abolitionist symbol. He ordered that it be changed to a helmet. Delacroix's figure wears a pileus, and Bartholdi at first considered placing one on his figure as well. Instead, he used a diadem, or crown, to top its head. In so doing, he avoided a reference to Marianne, who invariably wears a pileus. The seven rays form a halo or aureole. They evoke the sun, the seven seas, and the seven continents, and represent another means, besides the torch, whereby Liberty enlightens the world.
Bartholdi's early models were all similar in concept: a female figure in neoclassical style representing liberty, wearing a stola and pella (gown and cloak, common in depictions of Roman goddesses) and holding a torch aloft. The face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor's mother. He designed the figure with a strong, uncomplicated silhouette, which would be set off well by its dramatic harbor placement and allow passengers on vessels entering New York Bay to experience a changing perspective on the statue as they proceeded toward Manhattan. He gave it bold classical contours and applied simplified modeling, reflecting the huge scale of the project and its solemn purpose.
The statue was examined in great detail by French and American engineers as part of the planning for its centennial in 1986. In 1982, it was announced that the statue was in need of considerable restoration. Careful study had revealed that the right arm had been improperly attached to the main structure. It was swaying more and more when strong winds blew and there was a significant risk of structural failure. In addition, the head had been installed 2 feet (0.61 m) off center, and one of the rays was wearing a hole in the right arm when the statue moved in the wind. The armature structure was badly corroded, and about two percent of the exterior plates needed to be replaced. Although problems with the armature had been recognized as early as 1936, when cast iron replacements for some of the bars had been installed, much of the corrosion had been hidden by layers of paint applied over the years.
In May 1982, President Ronald Reagan announced the formation of the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Centennial Commission, led by Chrysler Corporation chair Lee Iacocca, to raise the funds needed to complete the work. Through its fundraising arm, the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., the group raised more than $350 million in donations. The Statue of Liberty was one of the earliest beneficiaries of a cause marketing campaign. A 1983 promotion advertised that for each purchase made with an American Express card, the company would contribute one cent to the renovation of the statue. The campaign generated contributions of $1.7 million to the restoration project.
In 1984, the statue was closed to the public for the duration of the renovation. Workers erected scaffolding that obscured the statue from view. Liquid nitrogen was used to remove layers of paint that had been applied to the interior of the copper skin over decades, leaving two layers of coal tar, originally applied to plug leaks and prevent corrosion. Blasting with baking soda powder removed the tar without further damaging the copper. The restorers' work was hampered by the asbestos-based substance that Bartholdi had used (ineffectively, as inspections showed) to prevent galvanic corrosion. Workers within the statue had to wear protective gear, dubbed "moon suits", with self-contained breathing circuits. Larger holes in the copper skin were repaired, and new copper was added where necessary. The replacement skin was taken from a copper rooftop at Bell Labs, which had a patina that closely resembled the statue's; in exchange, the laboratory was provided some of the old copper skin for testing. The torch, found to have been leaking water since the 1916 alterations, was replaced with an exact replica of Bartholdi's unaltered torch. Consideration was given to replacing the arm and shoulder; the National Park Service insisted that they be repaired instead.
The entire armature was replaced. The puddled iron bars used by Eiffel were gradually removed. The new bars that attach to the pylon are made of low-carbon corrosion-resistant stainless steel. The bars that now hold the staples next to the skin are made of Ferralium, an alloy that bends slightly and returns to its original shape as the statue moves. To prevent the ray and arm making contact, the ray was realigned by several degrees. The lighting was again replaced—night-time illumination now comes from metal halide lamps that send beams of light to particular parts of the pedestal or statue, showing off various details. Access to the pedestal, which had been through a nondescript entrance built in the 1960s, was renovated to create a wide opening framed by a set of monumental bronze doors with designs symbolic of the renovation. A modern elevator was installed, allowing handicapped access to the observation area of the pedestal. An emergency elevator was installed within the statue, reaching up to the level of the shoulder.
July 3–6, 1986, was designated "Liberty Weekend", marking the centennial of the statue and its reopening. President Reagan presided over the rededication, with French President François Mitterrand in attendance. July 4 saw a reprise of Operation Sail, and the statue was reopened to the public on July 5. In Reagan's dedication speech, he stated, "We are the keepers of the flame of liberty; we hold it high for the world to see."
Following the September 11 attacks, the statue and Liberty Island were immediately closed to the public. The island reopened at the end of 2001, while the pedestal and statue remained off-limits. The pedestal reopened in August 2004, but the National Park Service announced that visitors could not safely be given access to the statue due to the difficulty of evacuation in an emergency. The Park Service adhered to that position through the remainder of the Bush administration. New York Congressman Anthony D. Weiner made the statue's reopening a personal crusade. On May 17, 2009, President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced that as a "special gift" to America, the statue would be reopened to the public as of July 4, but that only a limited number of people would be permitted to ascend to the crown each day. The statue, including the pedestal and base, closed on October 29, 2011 (the day after celebrations to mark the statue's 125th anniversary), for installation of new elevators and staircases, and to bring other facilities, such as restrooms, up to code. Although the statue is closed to the public for up to a year, Liberty Island remains open.
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