On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty, France's gift of friendship to the American people, in New York Harbor. To mark the anniversary of one of America's most recognizable landmarks, here are 5 fun facts you didn't know about the Statue of Liberty...
The Statue Was Modeled After an Actual Person It comes as a surprise to most people that Lady Liberty was modeled on a real person. She was actually modeled on the mother of Frederic Bartholdi, the designer of the statue.The designer told French Senator Jules Bozerian that the statue was based on his mother, Charlotte, back in 1876. He invited the Senator into his box at the opera, where there was a pocket-sized version of the statue waiting for him. It was here that he revealed the inspiration behind the statue.
She Wasn’t Always Green The green hue of the Statue of Liberty is what makes her so instantly recognizable around the world. Interestingly, the statue wasn’t always green. Originally, she was actually a reddish color, similar to the color of a penny . So how did she get so green? Over the years, the copper coating has formed a green veneer from its exposure to the air. The torch flame is the one exception because it is coated with gold leaf.
The Statue Almost Didn’t Make It To America It really is hard to imagine New York without Lady Liberty, which is one of its most iconic landmarks. That may have been the reality if the statue never made it to America, which was once a very real possibility. The statue was shipped in 214 crates and shipped to the United States as a precious gift from France in 1885. The voyage took a full week longer than expected because of a storm that nearly caused the ship to sink.
Poetry Helped Finance the Pedestal for the Statue of Liberty
France had gifted the Statue of Liberty to the United States on the condition that the U.S. would fund the construction of the statue’s foundation and pedestal. Poetry by Emma Lazarus, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman was sold at auction to help with the financing. The inscribed plaque on the monument was a from poem donated by Emma Lazarus, a 38-year-old Jewish woman who was dying of cancer and had dedicated her life to helping refugees. The poem, which brought $1,500 at the fundraiser, was titled “The New Colossus” and contained the stirring words "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
Liberty Island Was Once Called Bedloe’s Island Although most people know the name Liberty Island as the statue’s home, it used to be called Bedloe’s Island and sometimes Love Island. It belonged to a man named Isaac Bedlow, who purchased the island in 1667. At the time, the island sported a home and lighthouse and was said to “abound” with rabbits .By 1800, the island became a defensive fortification in New York Harbor. The 11-point star-shaped structure that is now part of the base of the Statue of Liberty was actually built as a fort. Even when Bedloe’s Island became home to the Statue of Liberty in 1886, the name didn’t change. It wasn’t until 1956 that the site of the statue officially became “Liberty Island.”