The Statue of Liberty
On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty on an island in New York Harbor, declaring, "We will not forget that LIberty has here made here home; not shall her chosen altar be neglected."
A gift from France, the statue was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The people of France raised money to build the statue itself, while the people of the United States raised funds to pay for its giant base. Construction on the statue began at a workshop in Paris in 1875 and took nearly a decade to complete. Lady Liberty was then disassembled into 350 pieces, packed into 214 crates, and sent by ship to America, where she was reassembled on her pedestal.
The statue, whose formal name in Liberty Enlightening the World, depecits a woman who has thrown off the chains of tyranny that lie at her feet. Her right hand holds up a torch symbolizing liberty. Her left hand holds a tablet containing the date July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals. The seven rays of her crown represent the light of liberty shining across the seven seas and continents.
Standing 305 feet high from the bottom of its base to the tip of the torch, the statue is one of the largest ever built. French engineer Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris, devised its iron skeleton. The exterior is sheathed with copper.
Millions of immigrants passed the Statue of Liberty over the years as they entered the harbor en route to the immigration station at Ellis Island. For them, it came to symbolize America's promise of opportunity. A tablet within the pedestal contains the famous words of poet Emma Lazarus: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
(The American Patriot's Almanac)