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Monday, December 25, 2023

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Monday, December 25, 2023

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty facts:

What do we know about the monument that has become the symbol of the "American Dream"? Probably a lot. We know for sure that the French created it for the Americans, and now it stands in New York. But, by the way, both are wrong!

So how did the "Light of Asia" become the "Statue of Liberty"? And where is Mark Twain?

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1. The light of Asia turns ... into the Statue of Liberty.

The creator of the famous symbol of the United States, Frenchman Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi at the end of the sixties of the nineteenth century did not think about the Statue of Liberty at all. He was possessed by the idea of ​​creating a grandiose lighthouse on the Suez Canal in the form of a colossal goddess holding a torch.

In 1869, Bartholdi traveled to Egypt to present his idea to the then ruler of Egypt, Ismail Pasha. Pasha liked the sketches of the sculptor. The future colossus even received a tentative name: the Light of Asia. He was supposed to personify the progress that Egypt is bringing to the East. But, in the end, there was no money to build the lighthouse and the project was canceled.

The enterprising Bartholdi saved the sketches and made the right decision! When France decided to give the United States a gift for the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the "Light of Asia" became the "Statue of Liberty".

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2. This is not New York.

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty

One of the most common misconceptions about the Statue of Liberty is that it is located in New York City. However, in fact, this is not the case.

The island on which the statue is located originally belonged to the state of New Jersey. In 1667, it was bought by Isaac Bedloe and named after its owner - Bedloe Island. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the island housed a lighthouse and a house of the owners.

Times have changed: in connection with the beginning of the struggle for independence and subsequent events, this piece of land, located three kilometers from the southern tip of Manhattan, turned into a military fortification guarding New York. The star-shaped structure, which is now part of the founding of the Statue of Liberty, was built in 1811 as a military fort.

When it finally became clear that the Statue of Liberty should be located in New York, the legendary General William Tecumseh Sherman, the hero of the Civil War and the author of the world famous phrase: "War is hell!", Was instructed to choose a specific place for its installation.

Sherman decided that Bedloe Island would be the best fit for the statue. Bartholdi agreed with him. Little remained to do: transfer the island to federal ownership, which was approved by the 1877 Act of Congress.

The statue of the well-known Lady was erected in 1886. And in 1956 Bedloe Island got its current name, becoming Liberty Island.

3. A gift that is not welcome.

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty
At the World's Fair in Philadelphia. 1876

Under the agreement to transfer the gift of France to the United States, the costs of building the statue of the country were to be divided among themselves. The French created the Lady herself, and the Americans were responsible for the pedestal.

I must say that the United States was not very happy about the gift, fundraising for the creation of the monument was openly boycotted: politicians considered its construction untimely, the rich did not see any sense in it.

In order to draw attention to the project in May 1876, Bartholdi took part in the World's Fair, which was held in Philadelphia and was dedicated to the centenary of the United States. One of the exhibits of the exhibition is the right hand of the future statue. Visitors could climb to the balcony that stretched around the torch and from where they could look around.

Bartholdi was lucky: he found a powerful ally - Joseph Pulitzer. Hungarian émigré, owner of The New York World, the founder of modern journalism, he promised to raise money for the installation of a statue in New York.

4. National monument.

Pulitzer used his very popular newspaper as a donation platform. He published a proclamation to the nation stating that Liberty should not be allowed to be a gift from French millionaires to America's millionaires. It should become a symbol of the entire people.

Some of the pages of his newspaper were allocated for the publication of the names and letters of absolutely all people who donated for the construction of the monument, even a few cents.

"The guys and I have scraped together $ 7 and 25 cents for the Statue of Liberty, and the rest - God help you. He always helps those who the rich do not want to help. Docker from Port Elizabeth. New Jersey - such letters came to the newspaper ...

Within a few months, $ 102,000 was raised (an amount equal to 2 million today), donated by 120,000 Americans. The average donation did not exceed $ 1.

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5. What does Mark Twain have to do with it?

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty
Mark Twain

Of course, the "people's money" would still not be enough to make the pedestal. The flower of the American intelligentsia - the wonderful writer Mark Twain, the poet Walt Whitman, the poet Emma Lazarus and others - sold their works at a special auction to collect the missing amount.

One of these works, Emma Lazarus' sonnet "New Colossus" in 1903, was engraved on a plaque attached to the inner wall of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal as a symbolic greeting to all those who fled to the New World, hoping to find a better life, instilling hope in them.

6. Let not for long, but the highest ...

Opened in 1886, the statue was for some time the tallest structure in New York. Standing 93 meters from the ground to the top of the torch (which is comparable to a 22-storey building), it towered over the city, eclipsing even the Brooklyn Bridge.

7. On the opening day.

Chilly autumn day - October 28, 1886 - the day of the opening of the Statue of Liberty, New York will remember for a long time.

According to some estimates, about 1 million people gathered for the opening of the monument.

The grandiose parade was marked by the massive throwing out of old papers from offices along the path of the procession, which was the beginning of a new tradition for Americans.

The company that received a contract to sell food at the ceremony was remembered for its extraordinary greed: deciding that people would get hungry anyway, that they would buy everything, they so frankly saved on the production of cookies that they made it almost inaudible.

The moment the French flag fell from the face of the Statue of Liberty, the roar of a crowd of millions covered the harbor of New York. The nation that received its symbol was jubilant!

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8. Whose freedom is this?

There were also those for whom the opening ceremony of the monument was not a holiday. The day before the official opening, a group of women led by Lillie Devereux Blake, an American writer and surf girl, staged a protest. 60 women suffrage advocates hired a ship and sailed into New York Harbor to call attention to women's rights in the United States.

"Whose freedom is this? - they asked. - This monument again points to the cruelty of the current situation of women, since it represents Freedom as a majestic woman, in a state where no woman is free!"

Statue of Liberty: Curious facts about the Statue of Liberty

Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable symbols of the United States. Endlessly copied, filmed in films, placed on clothes, posters, souvenirs, overgrown with legends, it attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.

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