“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” So says the Statue of Liberty… sort of. That sonnet was written by Emma Lazarus as part of the fundraising efforts for the statue and it is inscribed on a plaque that is on the pedestal. What is actually written on the tablet that Lady Liberty holds? It’s one simple date: July 4th, 1776.  Technically, it’s written out as July IV MDCCLXXVI but who can read Roman numerals these days? How much more do you know about the Statue of Liberty’s origin story? You know a lot after reading the following:

Present From The French

In 1865, America was coming out of the bloody Civil War. There weren’t a lot of celebrations going on. Still, the democracy survived. That was enough to inspire French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to pull together a present for America. That present would be the Statue of Liberty. The goal was to get the statue built in France, ship it over to American and have it standing in time for the centennial celebration of 1876. Sadly, that didn’t happen. By the time they got around to raising enough funds to build the statue, it was already 1875.

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was tasked with creating the actual design and it is said that the face of the statue resembled his mother. That’s nice. While Barholdi was busy with the outside, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel was working on the metal skeleton for the inside. Yes, that would be the same Eiffel who put up that famous tower in Paris.

Building The Pedestal

While the French were getting the statue together, it feel to the Americans to build the pedestal. Apparently, there wasn’t a lot of interest for anyone to fork over the dough for this project. Imagine that. Joseph Pulitzer (he of the prize), started hammering away at the rich in the editorial pages of his newspaper The World. Essentially, he shamed the moneybags into opening up their money bags. It worked and the pedestal was completed. In 1885, the statue was shipped over in 350 pieces and was assembled on Liberty Island. It was dedicated on October 28th, 1886 by then President Grover Cleveland.

Fun Facts

  • The Statue of Liberty is precisely 305 feet and 1 inch tall. At the time of its dedication, it was the tallest building in New York City, which was around 22-stories.
  • The statue weighs 225 tons and is covered in 300 sheets of copper.
  • The broken chains at the statue’s feet are meant to represent a woman free from servitude.
  • The seven rays of the crown signify the seven continents.
  • If winds ever hit above 50 miles per hour, the statue can actually sway several inches.