On June 17, 1885, the disassembled Statue of Liberty was delivered to New York Harbor – by the French.
The statue arrived in 350 pieces, and was packed within more than 200 boxes. It was intended to commemorate the American Revolution, as well as one hundred years of “friendship” between France and the U.S. (Thanks for helping us out back there France… and now this big ass statue… what’s your angle, anyway?)
The statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who modeled the structure after his own mother. Yeah, you heard that correctly. “Hey mom! Get into your bathrobe and come stand here for a couple hours! Bring a torch and a clipboard too!”
Bartholdi was assisted by the famed Paris engineer Gustave Eiffel in the development of the statue. Eiffel eventually went on to create another world-famous monument – The Leaning Tower of Pisa… wait… that can’t be right.
The structure was scheduled to be completed by 1876, being the 100th anniversary of ‘Merica, however, fundraising efforts were progressing slowly. In order to fund the monument, both Europe and the U.S. hosted lotteries, auctions and even boxing matches. The ultimate price tag for this giant woman was nearly $250,000 (about $5.5 million today.) Dang, France!
After the statue’s re-assembly, the statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886. It became the tallest structure in New York City and weighed 450,000 lbs. “That’s one huge lady…”
(For more jokes about extremely tall women… see Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo.)
In 1892, Ellis Island, located near Liberty Island, became America’s immigration center for more than 12 million immigrants. Lady Liberty overlooked these newcomers for 62 years – becoming a symbol of freedom, opportunity and waiting in a super long line to be checked for small pox.
“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to be free… and employed in slave-like conditions among factories, sweatshops and loading docks.” That was pretty much the motto…
Today the statue continues to represent freedom, liberty and the American dream – just ask Michael Jackson.