Standing tall on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is a potent symbol of American history, representing the nation’s liberty, freedom and inclusivity. Designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the famous statue was a gift from France to the United States, to commemorate the alliance forged between Americans and French during the American Revolution. The constituent parts of the statue were built in France, and made their way across the pond in 214 shipping crates. In 1886 the statue was completed, and it has remained in place ever since. But just how tall is this colossal monument? Let’s take a closer look, along with some fun facts about Lady Liberty.
Did You Know?
1. The Statue of Liberty Is 151 Feet Tall (93 meters)
The height of the Statue of Liberty varies, depending on how you are measuring it. From the statue’s base to the torch, the total height is 151 feet. But if you also include the pedestal and the foundation, the entire construction is an impressive 305 feet tall, making up one of the largest monuments in the entire world. To put these measurements into context, the Statue of Liberty is equal height to a 22-story building from the ground to the tip of the torch flame. There are 377 steps leading from the main lobby of the statue all the way to the crown platform, which offers views out across New York harbor.
2. Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi Almost Made the Statue in Egypt
French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi was the man behind this world-famous monument. His first concept for a huge female monument was a lighthouse in Egypt, to commemorate the French construction of the Suez Canal. But when that fell through, Bartholdi set his sights on commemorating the alliance between France and the United States. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. Gustave Eiffel Assisted in the Construction of the Monument
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The Statue of Liberty’s head, arms and exterior were constructed in parts in the French engineering workshop of Gaget, Gauthier & Co., while Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, assisted with constructing the internal pylon tower that supports them. They spent 9 years putting it all together, before pulling it into parts and shipping it to New York City.
4. The Statue of Liberty Is Coated in Copper
Have you ever wondered why the Statue of Liberty has a green hue? The entire statue is coated in a thin layer of copper, as thin as two pennies stuck together, which covers an internal structure made from cast iron and stainless steel. This copper has slowly aged over time, changing from a reddish-brown hue to the distinctive pale green patination we know and love today. Meanwhile, the gleaming torch was coated in 24K gold during restoration work in 1986.
5. No One Knows Who Lady Liberty Is Modelled On
It is likely that the inspiration for Lady Liberty’s chiseled features and strident pose came from a range of sources. Some believe she might have been based on an Arab woman, in line with Bartholdi’s earlier designs for Egypt, while others speculate that she bears an uncanny resemblance to Bartholdi’s own mother.
6. The Statue of Liberty Was Once a Lighthouse
For the first 16 years of its existence, the Statue of Liberty operated as a lighthouse, which was supposed to guide ships coming into New York harbor. While the original idea was to place lights inside Liberty’s crown, these were too bright, and safety officers feared they might blind passing ships. Instead, light came from the torch. While other lighthouses were still run from kerosene lamps, the Statue of Liberty was the first lighthouse to be lit with electricity, powered by a steam electricity plant. But unfortunately, because there was no amplifying lens in the torch, the statue wasn’t much use, and it ceased its lighthouse activities in 1902.
7. It Is Closer to New Jersey than New York
Technically the statue of Liberty resides in the waters of New Jersey. However, Liberty Island is part of the 8th Congressional District of New York, and New Jersey has never tried to claim the land, so we can safely say Lady Liberty lives in New York City.