What is the process to create the Statue of Liberty?

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By Kristy Tolley

The Story of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom and hope, has been an iconic landmark in New York Harbor for over a century. The statue was a gift from France to the United States in 1886 to commemorate the centennial of American independence. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue, while Gustave Eiffel, the engineer behind the Eiffel Tower, designed the metal framework that supports it. The statue has since become an enduring symbol of democracy, enlightenment, and goodwill between nations.

Step 1: Designing the Statue of Liberty

Before any physical construction could begin, Bartholdi had to design the statue. He spent years developing the concept, sketching ideas and making small models. The statue was inspired by the Roman goddess Libertas, who represents freedom and democracy. Bartholdi wanted the statue to embody these values, so he made it a symbol of hope, welcoming immigrants to America. The statue was to be a massive 151 feet tall, with a female figure holding a torch and a tablet inscribed “July 4, 1776” to symbolize the date of American independence.

Step 2: Making a Plaster Model

Once Bartholdi had a design, he created a small plaster model of the statue, which he used to get approval and funding for the project. The model was only about 2 feet tall and was used to show potential donors what the statue would look like. Bartholdi later created a larger plaster model, which was 9 feet tall, that was used to create the full-sized model.

Step 3: Creating a Full-Sized Model

The full-sized model of the Statue of Liberty was created in France, near Bartholdi’s studio. It was made of plaster, wood, and iron and was about 36 feet tall. The model was used as a reference for creating the mold that would be used to cast the copper skin of the statue. The full-sized model was also crucial for ensuring that all the dimensions of the statue were correct.

Step 4: Making the Mold

The mold for the statue was made in sections, starting with the face and working down to the feet. The mold was made of plaster, which was reinforced with metal bands to prevent it from breaking during the casting process. Once the mold was complete, it was carefully disassembled and shipped to the foundry in New York where the statue would be cast.

Step 5: Casting the Copper Skin

The statue’s skin is made of copper, which was cast in sections at the foundry in New York. Each section was carefully poured into the mold and allowed to cool before being removed. The largest section was the statue’s right arm, which held the torch. It was cast in one piece and weighed over 400 pounds. The copper was then hammered into shape and the pieces were welded together.

Step 6: Assembling the Pieces

Once all the copper pieces were cast and shaped, they were carefully transported to the construction site on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island). The pieces were put together using a metal framework designed by Gustave Eiffel, which was also used to hold the statue in place. The framework was designed to withstand strong winds and other elements, ensuring the statue would remain standing for generations to come.

Step 7: Building the Pedestal

The statue was originally meant to be placed in New York Harbor without a pedestal, but this proved to be impractical due to the statue’s size and weight. An American fundraising campaign was launched to raise money for a suitable pedestal, which was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. The pedestal is made of granite and stands 89 feet tall, providing a sturdy base for the statue.

Step 8: Shipping and Assembling on Site

The statue was shipped to the United States in crates, which were carefully packed to protect the copper skin during the journey. Once the statue arrived on Bedloe’s Island, it was carefully assembled on top of the pedestal. The torch and tablet were added later, and Bartholdi himself supervised the final touches.

Step 9: Unveiling the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was officially unveiled on October 28, 1886, in a ceremony attended by President Grover Cleveland and thousands of spectators. The event was a symbol of the strong bond between France and the United States, as well as a celebration of liberty and freedom.

Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has become an enduring symbol of freedom, democracy, and hope. It has been featured in countless films, TV shows, and photographs, and has inspired people all over the world. Today, Lady Liberty remains an important icon of American culture and a tribute to the values that make America great.

References and Further Reading

  • National Park Service. "Statue of Liberty National Monument." https://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm
  • The Statue of Liberty – Origins and Impact by Edward Berenson (https://www.amazon.com/Statue-Liberty-Origins-Impact/dp/0300110252)
  • Bartholdi and the Statue of Liberty by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (https://www.amazon.com/Bartholdi-Statue-Liberty-Frederic-Auguste/dp/0965286412)
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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