The Statue of Liberty Wasn’t Always Green
The Statue of Liberty wasn’t always the iconic green color that we know today. The statue originally consisted of copper skin over the iron framework, making Lady Liberty appear a bright bronze color. Over the years, the copper began to oxidize, forming a protective layer called patina and creating a bright green hue. It took 30 years for Lady Liberty to turn fully green.
If the statue’s sculptor Bartholdi had it his way, Lady Liberty would never have been green — or even copper for that matter. The architect originally intended for the statue to be a lighthouse. In order for the lighthouse to be visible at night, Bartholdi planned to wrap the entire sculpture in gold leaf so that it would glow under the moonlight. This idea was rejected because it would’ve been far too expensive.
New York isn’t the only city to have its own Lady Liberty. You can find a much smaller version of the sculpture within the entrance hall to this famous museum in Paris. This mini Lady Liberty was crafted by Bartholdi shortly after the original statue was erected for the 1900 Paris Exposition, a world fair held in France to celebrate the achievements of the previous century.
There’s gold in the metal the torch is made of. But if you look closely at it, you can see that it’s not the original torch that was brought here from France. About 100 years after the statue was installed, in 1986, frequent rains and leaking water damaged the torch, and it had to be replaced.
At first, the old torch was displayed as a museum piece just inside the pedestal at the entrance. But recently, a new museum was built on the island, and the torch was moved there.
Some rumors about the statue say that Thomas Edison once wanted to make it speak. He wanted to put a huge phonograph in it, the sound of which could’ve been heard even in Manhattan. Good thing this never became reality. It would’ve been unbearably noisy on the island, and it would’ve sounded creepy.
Lady Liberty arrived from France on June 17, 1885, in over 300 copper pieces in 214 crates on the French ship Isere. It got into a terrible storm and nearly sank. The Statue could have been moved to Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco, or Philadelphia. When New York didn’t have enough money to pay for the pedestal, these cities were willing to pay for the whole construction on condition of its relocation.
In 1983, David Copperfield made the Statue disappear in front of a crowd. They were sitting on a platform and the illusionist opened the curtain and showed them a big empty nothing in Lady Liberty’s place. In reality, the platform was slowly moving until it reached an angle from which the Statue couldn’t be seen behind one of the towers on the platform.
It’s believed that Charlotte, the mother of Frederic Bartholdi who was the Statue’s sculptor, became the model for its face. In 1876, one French senator met her at the opera. He was shocked to see a live version of the Statue.
Some people think that Lady Liberty has a male face! According to them, it doesn’t look much like Bartholdi’s mother, but is a copy of his brother! Frederic knew his face in every detail because he spent hours watching his brother at the hospital.
In the summer, the crown of the Statue becomes a temporary home for peregrine falcons. In the winter, owls are often seen there. Many other bird species migrate through Liberty State Park in the spring and fall months, including rare ones.
The last official residents of Liberty Island were the family of the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty. They had free housing at Liberty Island until their home was damaged in a 2012 hurricane.
At 305 feet tall, when the Statue of Liberty was first built, it was the tallest iron structure in the world. Of course, that has now been far surpassed. The tallest building in the world, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, has a staggering height of over 2,700 feet. That’s almost 9 times taller than the Statue of Liberty.
The famous sculpture is weatherproof. Lady Liberty is struck by around 600 bolts of lightning every year since she was built. Some photographers have been lucky enough to catch these moments. She’s also survived hurricanes, ocean changes, and countless storms.
The Statue of Liberty was designed to sway in the wind. During heavy winds, Lady Liberty can sway up to three inches in any direction, and its torch can sway five.
The weight of the statue can be compared to the weight of an empty Boeing 737. But this is only the outer skin of Lady Liberty. The metal construction inside, that is stairs, pylons, and supports weigh another 125 tons. It’s like a small train locomotive. And the concrete base underneath weighs an impressive 27,000 tons. That’s like a fleet of 11,000 heavy SUVs or 180 of the largest blue whales.
It took the workers 4 months to fully assemble the statue on the finished pedestal. The statue is connected to the pedestal, so it can’t be lifted separately. And the entire metal structure inside can be seen through the glass ceiling of the pedestal. Although interior work was still in progress, you could already see the statue in all its beauty.
There’s a star-shaped base on the ground. It’s the remains of the former Fort Wood on the island. Next comes the granite pedestal, which has its own observation deck, and the statue itself.
Visiting Lady Liberty is a good workout. Visitors need to climb 354 steps to reach the crown. Inside the crown, there are 25 windows, providing stunning panoramic views of New York City. It’s also much smaller than you thought it would be. Lady Liberty’s crown is adorned with seven individual spikes. Some say these spikes represent the seven oceans and continents of the world, bearing the universal concept of liberty. Others think they represent rays of sunshine.
The Statue of Liberty was first assembled near Parc Monceau, in Paris. The locals loved her so much they called her “Lady of the Park”. They used 300 different kinds of hammers to shape the copper, which was the weight of an African elephant, into the statue.
The statue was finished thanks to one of the first crowdfunding campaigns in history. First, French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who created the Statue, raised funds in his country to build it. Then, over 120,000 donors in the US joined in to give it a pedestal.
Lady Liberty received a new torch with a flame during the 1984 renovation. It’s made of copper and covered in 24k gold leaf. The original torch had to be replaced because of water leakage. You can now see it at the Statue of Liberty Museum.
During the same renovation, the Statue got a nose patch and a better supporting structure. The original one was slightly imperfect. They found out the head had been installed two feet off-center, and the arm was 18 inches away from the body.
The Lady of the Harbor is as tall as a 22-story building. Her face is as long as a Queen Size Bed, and her hands are twice as long. If this Lady ever wanted to buy shoes, they’d have to be a size 879. Her waistline is as long as a double-decker bus, and she is about five times as heavy as a T. rex.
It’s practically impossible to see it when you visit, but Lady Liberty is standing on a broken shackle and chains. They stand for breaking free. Her right foot is slightly raised. Bartholdi was thinking of putting chains in the statue’s hand first but ended up giving her a tablet instead. The pedestal now hosts a museum where you can learn all about the Statue’s history.
From there on, you can climb a double metal narrow staircase of 354 steps to the crown. It’s so small it only fits 10 people at a time, but it has an impressive 25 windows. The torch is closed for visitors.
Bartholdi was assisted in his designs of Lady Liberty’s structure by Gustave Eiffel. He was a famous structural engineer who — you might have guessed from his name — is famous for designing the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel designed the framework and structures that support the Statue of Liberty.
Liberty Island was only named so in 1956, 70 years after the Statue had been installed. Until then, it was known as Great Oyster Island, then Bedlow Island after a Dutch man who owned it. At some point, it was also called Love Island, by order of Governor Francis Lovelace. You can’t travel to Liberty Island by a private ship and dock it there. The only allowed official way to get there is by Statue Cruises ferry.