For more than a century,
the dreams of million men and women have been represented by a female face, a crown of rays and a torch:
Lady Liberty, or the Statue of Liberty.
For more than 12 million emigrants landed in the port of New York,
this was the first image of the America and of their new life.
Since 125 years the Statue of Liberty represents the symbol par excellence of the United States and of the American dream. It has welcomed in the Big Apple all the emigrants who came from abroad and settled in the stars and stripes country. An imposing statue with the appearance of a Roman goddess, that the fate wanted near Ellis Island, where the emigrants landed and were greeted.
The most popular woman in America, was born in France and was accepted into the new country with a certain coolness. In truth, it would have never crossed the Atlantic Ocean if it wasn’t for the enthusiasm of the writer and French politician Edouard de Laboulaye. Since the first moment he could count on the help of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor of solid training and with the taste for monumental works.
With the approach of the first Centenary of the independence of the United States, obtained also thanks to the help of France, Laboulaye and Bartholdi had the idea the to seal the brotherhood between the two countries with a symbol of freedom, for which they both had fought. So they devised a Memorial: Lady Liberty.
Bartholdi traveled in the United States and chose for the monument Bedloe Island, in the South of Manhattan. Back in France, he started drawing the sketch of the monument, conceived as a colossal statue: “the freedom that lights the world”.
From his pencil in fact, the figure of woman dressed in a Roman toga raising the torch of freedom, was born. His fire in fact would have to penetrate inside the darkness of ignorance of men and light the path for those who have leaned from the sea in American soil, making them free.
Bartholdi designed the statue barefoot, trampling the broken chains of tyranny, to represent those who, in America, sought that dream of freedom only imagined, escaping from the oppression of poverty. Lastly, he decided to encircle the head of the statue with a Royal symbol, reminiscent of the seven continents and the seven seas that bathe the globe.
The date of the Declaration of American independence, July 4th , 1776, is engraved on a volume that the statue holds in the left hand and which symbolizes the independence from British rulers and thus the liberation of men from any oppressor.
Bartholdi worked for some years at the head of a painfully valid team of workers: copper plates, lighter and bronze clay were mounted on a metal structure ordered the great engineer Gustave Eiffel.
On July 4th, 1884 the Statue of Liberty was admired for the first time in Paris by French people, who financed the construction. Then, after having been exposed for several months in France, it was transported on a French ship, and in June 1885, it docked in the port of New York.
The day of the inauguration of the monument, October 28th , 1886, President Grover Cleveland, facing a multitude of people, officially accepted the birthday present of the French and with the gesture of Bartholdi who discovered his work, a long adventure made of efforts and tenacity ended. Miss Liberty was finally at home.