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On June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York in 350 pieces shipped in over 200 cases. Assembling the statue took over a year, and it was officially unveiled to the public in October 1886. The statue, designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, was a gift from the people of France to celebrate American independence and the friendship between the two countries. Initially intended as a centennial gift in 1876, delays in fundraising and construction caused the statue to be completed late. The pedestal of the statue was financed by the United States, while France funded the cost of the statue.

The fundraising efforts for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty were slow until Joseph Pulitzer placed an ad in his paper, the New York World, inviting readers to donate. In return for their donations, Pulitzer printed the names of the donors in the newspaper. This initiative was successful, with 120,000 people donating over $100,000, enough to pay for the rest of the construction. In total, the Statue of Liberty cost approximately $250,000 in 1880’s money, which would be equivalent to nearly $6 million in 2023. The famous poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus was cast in bronze and displayed inside the pedestal, featuring the iconic lines, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

While awaiting the completion of its pedestal, the Statue of Liberty remained in pieces on Bedloe’s Island. Construction on the pedestal was not completed until April 1886, further delaying the project. When completed, the statue stood at a height of 151 feet, 1 inch, making it the tallest structure in the United States at that time. Visitors can climb 162 stairs to access the crown, as there is no elevator service to the top. The statue’s crown can be accessed by visitors, allowing for a unique perspective of the iconic monument. The arm holding the torch is 46 feet long, while the finger is eight feet long and the nose is about five feet long.

The symbolism of the Statue of Liberty as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy is reflected in its history and construction. Given as a gift from France to the United States, the statue represents the friendship between the two nations. Despite delays in fundraising and construction, the completion of the statue in 1886 marked a significant moment in American history. The statue’s pedestal, financed by American donors, exemplifies the collaborative effort that went into creating this iconic monument. The Statue of Liberty continues to welcome visitors from around the world, allowing them to climb to the crown and experience the symbol of freedom that stands tall in New York Harbor.

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