Now it is revered as a national symbol, but in the beginning the
Statue of Liberty didn't get much respect. France's grand gift of
friendship was first greeted with an "it'll never happen" attitude
from Americans. When it began to look as though the French were
going to pull it off, the project was dismissed as "New York's
lighthouse," not a national treasure.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World"
(its actual title) was closed to the public. Officials were
concerned that the statue would be the target of a terrorist attack.
The statue is scheduled to be reopened Tuesday, though visitors
will no longer be able to climb the stairs to the viewing platform
in the crown. (The ladder to the torch has been closed since 1916.)
Visitors will gaze up into the statue's interior through a thick
glass ceiling at the uppermost level of the pedestal. Enhanced
lighting and a new video system have been installed. Visitors may
walk out onto the pedestal's observation deck once more, but they
will have to make reservations to tour inside the pedestal. For the
price of a ferry ride anyone can tour Liberty (formerly Bedloe's)
Island - and visit the gift shop.
We may have Joseph Pulitzer to thank for the statue being in New
York. At one point, funds to build the statue's pedestal had run
out, and construction on the barely-begun base had ceased.
Meanwhile, workers in France were completing the statue. A committee
from Boston reportedly approached the French and offered to host the
statue there. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Cleveland also
expressed interest - even Baltimore and Minneapolis. Pulitzer began
to campaign tirelessly for the pedestal fund. Within five months,
the necessary funds had been raised.
A colossus arises in New York
Summer 1865 Antislavery leader Edouard de Laboulaye conceives the
idea for the Statue of Liberty at a gathering in his home near
Versailles, France. It is shortly after Lincoln's assassination, an
event the French feel deeply. De Laboulaye proposes a very large
gift to the United States to honor the historic amitie (friendship)
between the two nations. The people of France will create and pay
for a statue. The people of America will fund and construct a
pedestal for it. Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi is sent to
America to study the situation. By the time he lands in New York, he
has an idea.
November 1875 The Franco-American Union is formed to make plans
and collect funds. Construction of the statue begins.
January 1877 The American Committee for the construction of the
pedestal is created. …