Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty arrived at its permanent home at Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885, aboard the French frigate Isere. A gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, the 151-foot-tall statue was created to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. Designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom and democracy to the nation and to the world for well over a century.

Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor. Detroit Photographic Co., 1905. Photocrom Prints. Prints & Photographs Division
Statue of Liberty, Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1898. The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898 to 1906. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

Sometimes known as Lady Liberty, the statue is constructed of hand-shaped copper sheets, assembled on a framework of steel supports designed by engineers Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. For transit to America, the figure was broken down into 350 separate pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue of Liberty sits within the star-shaped walls of the former Fort Wood, rising to a height of 305 feet on a pedestal designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. The pedestal was built using funds raised by the American people through benefits, charity auctions, and individual donations—some as small as a few pennies each.

The Statue of Liberty faces to the east, greeting incoming ships upon their arrival while also looking back toward her birthplace in France. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue on October 28, 1886, before thousands of spectators. With the 1892 opening of the nearby Ellis Island Immigration Station, Bartholdi’s Liberty would welcome more than 12 million immigrants to the United States. Emma Lazarus’s sonnet “The New Colossus,” originally composed in 1883 as part of the national fundraising effort, was affixed to the statue’s pedestal in 1903. Its poignant lines celebrate America’s role as a haven to peoples of the world in search of freedom:

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!

Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” 1883.

Profile View of Left Side of Head. Jet Lowe, 1985. Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, Manhattan, New York, New York County, NY. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. Prints & Photographs Division

New Torch and Flame in Place; Workers Beginning to Dismantle Scaffolding, December 17, 1985. Jet Lowe, 1985. Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, Manhattan, New York, New York County, NY. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. Prints & Photographs Division

For his 1949 Broadway musical Miss Liberty, Irving Berlin, himself an immigrant from Russia, set music to Emma Lazarus’s iconic poem. It is the only song in the Irving Berlin canon for which he used someone else’s words.

The Statue of Liberty, now weathered to a vibrant copper green, has been iconic since its first conception, and continues to be recognized as a national, and international, landmark. Her image is borrowed widely: from souvenirs and postcard; to editorial cartoons, sheet music External, and war bond posters; to yard art; to Hanukkah menorahs and Halloween costumes. First designated a monument in 1924 and transferred to the National Park Service’s care in 1933, the Statue of Liberty National Monument’s boundaries expanded in 1956 to include both the renamed Liberty Island and Ellis Island within a single site. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site External in 1984, the Statue of Liberty underwent a major restoration for its own centennial, in 1986.

You–Buy a Liberty bond lest I perish / C.R. Macauley. 1917. Posters: World War I Posters. Prints & Photographs Division

Federal Heating and Air Conditioning, Statue of Liberty, Federal Boulevard. John Margolies, 2004. Prints & Photographs Division

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The Marshall Plan

On June 19, 1947, the British and French foreign ministers issued a joint communiqué inviting twenty-two European nations to send representatives to Paris to participate in designing a plan for rebuilding war-torn Europe. In his Harvard University commencement address two weeks earlier, U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall called for a massive European aid package designed to stabilize the world economy and discourage the spread of communism. More than 12.4 billion dollars were transferred to Western Europe under the Economic Recovery Program known as the “Marshall Plan.” Not completely altruistic, the legislation creating the plan specified that aid dollars be spent in the U.S.

It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.

George C. Marshall, secretary of state, “Address At Harvard University,” June 5, 1947. p. 8 For European Recovery: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan

Nearly every Western European nation participated in the recovery plan. Although inflation was a serious side effect of the program, within two years many countries had reached or exceeded pre-war levels of agricultural and industrial production. By encouraging European economic integration, the Marshall Plan fostered the creation of the European Economic Community of the 1950s—the precursor to today’s European Union.

“The Men Responsible.” Copyprint from The Marshall Plan at the Mid-Mark, 1950. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division

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