Statue of Liberty NATIONAL MONUMENT
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY NATIONAL MONUMENT was established by Presidential proclamation in 1924 and placed under the jurisdiction of the War Department, from which it was transferred in 1933 to the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
In 1937 the boundaries were extended to include the whole of Bedloe's Island, approximately 12 acres in area, in the upper bay of New York Harbor. It is located about 1-5/8 miles from the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan, from which point transportation and mail service are provided by boat. At the present time a privately owned ferry line, operating under contract with the Government, runs to Bedloe's Island on an hourly schedule during the day.
The outstanding feature of the monument is the world-renowned Statue of Liberty, a colossal figure by the Alsatian sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi, presented in 1884 by the people of France and erected in 1886 on a pedestal donated by the people of the United States.
Upon the dedicatory tablet placed in the pedestal, the French donors expressed the significance of the statue: "A Gift from the People of the Republic of France to the People of the United States, this Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World Commemorates the Alliance of the Two Nations in Achieving the Independence of the United States of America and Attests their Abiding Friendship. Auguste Bartholdi, Sculptor. Inaugurated October 28th, 1886."
It had been intended to present the statue in 1876, during the centennial celebration of American independence, but numerous delays postponed the actual dedication for 10 years.
Although its original purpose was the commemoration of Franco-American relations during the period of the American Revolution and in subsequent years, the Statue of Liberty has come to have an additional meaning, one symbolic of the principles upon which the United States Government was founded. Standing at the very portal of the New World, it has greeted thousands of oppressed people of other lands who have reached these shores in hopeful search of greater freedom and opportunity.
ALMOST from the very beginning of the American Revolution, the French gave moral support to the rebelling colonists, supplied them with arms, financial backing, and expert advice, and sheltered their privateers. In 1778, after the American victory at Saratoga, France entered into a formal alliance with the independent States and openly aided them by sending troops and a fleet that helped materially in American success at Yorktown.
These bonds of amity and sympathy between the two peoples remained firm, despite social and political upheavals in France, and eventually served to aid in maintaining the friendship of the French toward the principles of union during the War between the States.
Outstanding among French interpreters of the aims of the American Government during the war of 1861-65 was Edouard de Laboulaye, professor, publicist, and historian. In 1865 he proposed that the people of France participate in the centennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not only as a gesture of Franco American unity but also to promote a favorable attitude of Americans toward France.
Although received with enthusiasm by de Laboulaye's friends, the project was necessarily delayed by the Franco-Prussian War. The defeat of the French army and the growing strength of Germany gave added incentive to de Laboulaye and his group to push their plan for building support for France in the United States. At de Laboulaye's suggestion, Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor whose native Alsace had just been lost to Germany and whose patriotism was aroused, began to work on the idea of a sculptural monument to be presented to the United States. He sailed to America to survey the scene, establish contacts, and return with recommendations for the realization of the great project.
As he entered New York Harbor Bartholdi was deeply impressed by the possibility of erecting there a colossal allegorical statue of the Goddess of Liberty, released from her imprisoning chains and holding aloft her torch of enlightenment at the gateway to the New World. He made sketches of his conception and suggested that the statue be placed within the walls of Fort Wood on Bedloe's Island. Having received considerable encouragement from prominent Americans, Bartholdi returned to France with enthusiastic hopes.
His proposal was warmly greeted by de Laboulaye and his friends, and a committee was soon organized to obtain funds by popular subscription.
In 1875, Bartholdi completed his original model, and the work of enlargement and reproduction in colossal form was begun under his supervision in the shops of Gaget-Gauthier Compagnie in Paris.
The method adopteda heroic kind of repoussecalled for the successive enlargement of the final model. By means of a great number of measurements, a model, approximately 10 feet in height, was formed. This in turn was used to prepare a figure nearly 36 feet in height. The enlarged model, finished in plaster, refined in its details and contours, was divided into sections which were again enlarged. Lath forms were constructed, over which the plaster was molded to shape the various parts of the full-sized figure. From the plaster sections wooden patterns were fitted to the enlarged mold. Heavy copper sheets were then pressed and hammered to conform to the shape of the wooden patterns.
When assembled, the statue consisted of a shell of copper three-thirty-seconds of an inch thick, in sections held together by several types of joints, each section being reinforced by bands of iron formed to the inside contour and in turn connected to a central tower structure similar in design to a modern oil derrick. This framework was designed by the famous engineer, Gustave Eiffel, remembered for the great tower in Paris which bears his name.
The construction of the statue made it comparatively light, although sufficiently strong and durable to withstand the elements, and rendered it possible to dismantle and transport it without difficulty.
In 1876, the year in which it had been hoped to present the finished statue, the completed right arm and torch were exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and later at Madison Square Garden in New York City. To encourage the subscription of funds in France, the head and shoulders of the Goddess of Liberty when completed were placed on public exhibition in Paris, but the collection of the required funds was not accomplished until 1882. Bartholdi then completed the statue and presented it to the American Ambassador in Paris on July 4, 1884. There it stood until the spring of 1885, when it was dismantled and shipped to the United States. Arriving at Bedloe's Island more than 10 years after de Laboulaye had first suggested the project, it remained there a year before the pedestal, the American part of the endeavor, was completed.
BUILDING THE PEDESTAL
WHEN the French proposed the gift of the Statue of Liberty to the people of the United States, it was agreed that the latter would provide funds for the construction of the supporting pedestal, and an American committee was organized for that purpose. The response to the appeals of this committee was poor, especially when it became evident that the pedestal would cost at least twice as much as the committee had estimated.
As early as 1877, while construction of the statue itself was under way in Paris, the President had designated the parade ground inside Fort Wood as the site for the new statue. It was not until 6 years later, in 1883, that the committee had enough funds to warrant breaking ground for the pedestal foundation. By August 5, 1884, the work had progressed far enough for a ceremonial laying of the cornerstone. Soon afterward the committee confessed that it still needed $100,000 to complete the pedestal, and all construction came to a halt.
Against a generally hostile press the committee seemed able to make little progress, as there was a widespread opinion that the statue was a gift to the city of New York and not to the United States. In March 1885, after Congress failed to pass an appropriation upon which the committee had relied, and when it was feared that the statue would have to be rejected because of the inability to provide a pedestal, Joseph Pulitzer, who had just acquired the New York World, offered the services of the paper in an appeal for funds.
In a series of news stories and daily editorials, the World called upon the public to send in small contributions. So effective was this campaign that work was resumed in May, and by August the drive was successfully concluded, assuring the erection of the pedestal by spring. The reassembling and erection of the statue began in April and was carried forward to completion within 6 months. The President of the United States, the French Ambassador, and Bartholdi himself were present at the dedication of the new memorial on October 28, 1886.
AUGUSTE BARTHOLDI, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, was born at Colmar in Alsace, France, on April 2, 1834. During his youth he showed an interest in art and began the study of architecture and painting. His interests soon turned to sculpture, however, and a visit to Egypt during the 1850's apparently influenced him to do his work in a heroic and massive style. When he was chosen to construct the Statue of Liberty, he was already well known for his previous work.
Batholdi served with the French National Guard in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. During that time his home province was lost to Germany. His subsequent work was characterized by a deep feeling of nationalism.
Bartholdi's best-known work in France is the massive "Lion of Belfort" which was executed in red stone against the bluff on which stood the fortress of Belfort, where the French held off the Prussian assault until the very end of the war. Many of his other works are subjects which also show a strong patriotic strain.
The Statue of Liberty is one of Bartholdi's best works and the one by which he wished to be remembered. In a period when sculpture was marked more by good craftsmanship than by depth of understanding, Bartholdi created the statue with dignity, simplicity, and an embodiment of ideals far beyond his other works. He died at Paris in 1904, after having left a number of monuments to his ability in the United States. Among these are the Lafayette Statue in Union Square and the Lafayette and Washington Monument at Morningside Park, New York City; the Bartholdi Fountain in the Botanic Garden, Washington, D. C., and the angelic trumpeters on the First Baptist Church, Boston, Mass.
BEDLOE'S ISLAND is named for its first owner, one Isaac Bedloe, who obtained it by grant from the Governor of New York prior to 1670. The Bedloe estate retained the island until 1732, when it was sold. During the 1740's, the city of New York utilized it as a quarantine station and in 1758 purchased it for that purpose. The hospital built on Bedloe's Island was burned in 1776 by a raiding party of patriots, but after the Revolution, in 1784, the island was again designated as a quarantine station, this time by the legislature of the State of New York. In 1796, title was transferred from the city to the State for use as a hospital site or for any other State purposes.
By this time, however, steps were being taken by the newly reorganized Federal Government, in conjunction with the State of New York, to protect New York Harbor by means of fortifications on Governors, Bedloe's, and Ellis Islands. In 1798, work had progressed so far on Bedloe's Island that its use as a quarantine station had to be abandoned, and in 1800, title to the island was transferred from the State to the United States.
The nature of the fortifications on the island prior to 1800 is not known, but by 1808 plans had been prepared and construction started on a new 11-point star fort. It was completed in 1811 and in 1814 it was officially named Fort Wood in honor of Col. Eleazar D. Wood, an officer killed during the War of 1812.
Fort Wood was garrisoned with artillery and infantry until the the outbreak of the War Between the States, when it became a recruiting station and ordnance depot. After the war a small garrison was kept on duty until 1877, when the fort was selected as the site for the new Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World. It was then abandoned as an active military fortification and the troops, except a small guard detail, were permanently withdrawn.
When the Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886, a few acres of Bedloe's Island were set apart for the Lighthouse Board which operated the light in the torch. In 1901 this dual jurisdiction was terminated, and the War Department took complete charge of the statue and the island.
From 1904 to 1923, the island was occupied by the Army's Signal Corps, which erected a radio station about 1905. When the Military Police of the First Division relieved the Signal Corps on the island in 1923, the Corps still retained jurisdiction over the radio station.
On October 15, 1924, a Presidential proclamation established the Statue of Liberty as a national monument, with boundaries set at the outer edge of the walls of old Fort Wood. Another proclamation on August 9, 1933, transferred the monument from the War Department to the Department of the Interior, to be administered by the National Park Service. The Army, however, retained the remainder of Bedloe's Island as a military post until a proclamation on September 7, 1937, declared the post abandoned and extended the boundaries of the monument to include the entire island.
LIGHTING THE STATUE
AS SOON as the Statue of Liberty was completed, the Government placed it under the administration of the Lighthouse Board which, with the approval of Bartholdi, made the necessary alterations in the copper-covered torch to permit the installation of an electric lighthouse lamp. This was accomplished by cutting a number of holes in the covering through which the rays from the inside lens could be seen across the harbor. The Board also attempted to install a floodlighting system, but without success. Bartholdi commented at the time that because of the dull color of the copper he doubted that floodlighting would ever be practical unless the statue were gilded.
Through the efforts of another campaign by the New York World, funds were raised in 1916 for the installation of a floodlighting system. Improved lighting equipment and the fact that through the years the statue had taken on a coat of green copper rust assured the success of the project. In 1931 a new floodlighting system replaced the old one.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE MONUMENT
IN 1937 it was discovered that certain platforms and stairways in the pedestal of the statue would have to be replaced. The National Park Service decided that since the monument would have to be closed to visitors for the replacement, the statue itself should be reconditioned. Engineers made a thorough inspection of the framework and copper in the statue from the torch to the beams on which the structure rests. The spikes were removed from the crown on the head and rebuilt with new iron frames. Supporting ironwork was replaced where sections of it had rusted, and rivets which had loosened were removed and replaced by new ones. When the renovation was completed, the statue was reopened to the public in as good a condition as it was when dedicated in 1886.
When Bartholdi designed the Statue of Liberty, he conceived it as rising unobstructed from Bedloe's Island, with the surrounding city as a frame. The statue, however, had to share Bedloe's Island with the army post, Fort Wood, until the latter was abandoned in 1937. The old brick buildings and galvanized warehouses of the post made a shabby setting for the great statue.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument differs from other monuments in that it was established to preserve and interpret its renowned symbolic figure. It marks the site of no historic event and glorifies no individual or group. It is an effort to commemorate the ideal of liberty upon which the Government of the United States was founded.
In order that the statue may be presented in its full significance, the National Park Service is preparing extensive plans for the development of Bedloe's Island. The present approach by boat which brings the visitor under the very feet of the Goddess of Liberty will be changed to permit circling the island in order to give a better view from the harbor. As seen from the boat, the statue will appear as if rising from a wooded island, since all the buildings are to be placed in the far background. After arriving at the new pier on the island, the visitor will approach the statue over wide, tree-lined walks, passing the new administration and concession buildings on the way to the old fort sally port.
For those who desire information on the history of the statue, its symbolism and its significance, there will be museum exhibits on the new landings of the statue pedestal and in the administration building. In these exhibits, as in the entire plan, the emphasis will be on the statue itself. Here, in a setting of simple, ordered dignity, the visitor will be able to feel that this is truly a memorial to American freedom, a site dedicated to the interpretation of the basic doctrine of freedom.
STATUE OF LIBERTY VISIT
VISITORS to the Statue of Liberty National Monument now arrive at Bedloe's Island by boat from South Ferry Landing in Battery Park, the southernmost extremity of Manhattan. The entrance to the monument is through the high scarped walls of old Fort Wood. The portal, originally one of two sally ports, is flanked by heavy doors 6 inches in thickness.
The walls of the fort, more than 20 feet thick at the base, are pierced by a corridor of brick vault-work which opens into the passageway leading to the stairway and to the elevator within the pedestal foundation.
There is a 5-cent fee for use of the elevator which takes the visitor to the balcony level, near the top of the stonework, a height equal to that of a 10-story building.
During pleasant weather, many visitors take the stairway from the sally port corridor to the promenade which, more than 50 years ago, was the terreplein or gun platform of the old fort which enclosed 2-1/2 acres within the star-shaped walls.
Now paved, the space between the wall and the terraced lawn surrounding the pedestal provides a pleasant walk and affords an opportunity to study the details of the statue's construction. In the 11 salient points of the old wall are the 96 lamps that provide the nightly illumination of the statue.
From the promenade there are stairways that lead to the second level within the pedestal. Here are the dedication tablets presented by the Franco American Union, donor of the statue, and the American committee which erected the pedestal. The bronze tablet bearing the Emma Lazarus sonnet, "The New Colossus," is also on this floor.
Six stories above is the fourth level, at the foot of the statue, from which one may ascend the spiral stairway system to the crown, 12 additional stories above. There are two stairways, each of 168 steps, winding about the same central column within the towerlike supporting structure of the statue. One is for the ascending traffic and the other for returning visitors.
There are two rest platforms, situated at one-third and two-thirds of the distance to the top, which enable visitors to pause without delaying those behind them. Those who find the climb too arduous may cross over to the descending stair.
The right arm which holds aloft the torch has been closed to the public for many years. The ladder in this arm is now used by the maintenance staff in replacing the lighting equipment in the torch.
At the top of the stairway, the observation platform within the head is 260 feet above sea level and is large enough to accommodate 30 people. Visitors may look out through a series of 25 windows that are the jewels of the crown underneath the 7 rays of the diadem. From this level can best be seen the tablet of law held in the left hand of the Goddess of Liberty, bearing in Roman letters the date of July 4, 1776. It was this date that the donors sought to commemorate in sponsoring the presentation of the statue as a part of the centennial celebration of 1876.
From within the crown, or more conveniently from the balcony surrounding the pedestal, a splendid view of the changing panorama that is New York is afforded. On clear days objects within a radius of 15 miles can be seen, from the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River to the north to the south shore of Raritan Bay, New Jersey. The Manhattan skyline, the bridges spanning the East River, Governors Island, and the main channel through which pass the world's largest ships are in the immediate foreground. To the south, the Narrows, the body of water opening into the lower bay that separates Brooklyn from Staten Island, is seen guarded by Forts Hamilton and Wadsworth. At the southwest the great steel arch bridge over the Kill van Kull, joining Staten Island to the New Jersey mainland, can be seen. In this area are acres of tanks and refining equipment which identify the region as one of the largest oil-refining centers in the United States.
Due west of the island are the heavily industrialized areas of New Jersey. The eastern terminals of the Lehigh Valley, Jersey Central, Lackawanna, and Baltimore and Ohio Railroads are located here. Farther west and northwest, the great Pulaski Skyway and the series of bridges over the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers are easily discerned.
To the north lies Ellis Island, the immigration station for New York City. Through the Ellis Island gateway from the opening of the twentieth century to the beginning of the World War came ten million immigrants, to whom the Statue of Liberty represented the freedom which they sought in the New World.
Visitors can see more of the statue by walking down the stairs in the pedestal to the promenade. However, those who wish to pay a 5-cent fee can ride down on the elevator.
Exhibits affording a full understanding of the beginning and construction of the statue are available at the various levels within the pedestal. Other exhibits and displays for the public waiting-room and museum are being prepared.
Souvenirs, post cards, and a lunch bar are provided for the public through the facilities of a private concessioner.
All communications concerning the Statue of Liberty National Monument should be addressed to the Superintendent, Statue of Liberty National Monument, Bedloe's Island, New York, N. Y.
THE poem, "The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus, was written in December 1883 for the Portfolio of the Art Loan Collection in order to aid the pedestal fund. It was placed on a tablet in the pedestal of the statue by friends of Miss Lazarus in 1908. Because of the numerous requests for copies of this poem it is included in this booklet.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
Last Updated: 20-Jun-2010