If you've never actually seen her in person, you've probably at least heard of her or seen her picture. This great symbol of freedom beckons in a famous poem by Emma Lazarus to "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp. 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!"
While the language might be a bit strange sounding, the message is simple. The statue offered an open-armed welcome to the millions of immigrants seeking freedom in this country.
Lady Liberty was a gift to the United States from France. It was designed by Auguste Bartholdi
and engineered by Gustave Eiffel, who also engineered France's famous Eiffel tower. He modeled the statue after his mother, Marie.
Construction on the statue titled "Liberty Enlightening the World" began in France in 1875 and was completed nine years later. The statue was presented to America on July 4, 1884.
From her heel to the top of her head, Liberty stands 111 feet. In addition to the concrete, she contains more than 179,000 pounds of copper and 250,000 pounds of steel. Her total weight is 450,000 pounds.
How does a statue that big get across the Atlantic Ocean? Liberty was dismantled and shipped in 350 individual pieces in 214 crates.
While the statue sat in wooden crates, a place for it had to be decided on. The land that is now Liberty Island has its own interesting history and went through several uses and name changes. It was popular for oyster fishing, used as an infirmary and a pirate was even hung there.
Before the 1600s, the Mohegan natives called the little island "Minnissais" meaning "lesser island." The English seized it and called it "Oyster Island," probably because of the good oyster fishing.
It was later sold to a New Amsterdam businessman Isaack Bedloe who called it "Love Island." After his death, his daughter sold it to Archibald Kennedy, the commander of a British Naval Station who built a light house and called it "Kennedy Island." New York eventually bought it and built a hospital.
Liberty's designer Bartholdi visited New York and decided that Bedloe Island was the perfect place to put the statue. By 1884, excavation began for the construction of the pedestal that will hold up Liberty. Richard Morris Hunt designed the 11-point star.
On Oct. 15, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated and nearly 75 years later on June 30, 1960, Bedloe Island was renamed Liberty Island.
Today's lesson fulfills the following New York standards: E1c, E2d, E3c, E3d, E4a, E4b, E5a. Social Studies Standard 1.
Fun facts about the
lady in the harbor:
- Her dress is 400 yards long
- Her sandal is a women's size 879.
- Her toga represents "The Ancient Republic of Rome"
- The chains underfoot represent "Liberty crushing the chains of slavery"
- The 25 windows in her crown represent natural minerals of the earth
- There are 354 steps (22 stories) from the base to the crown.
The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom. We are so used to freedom that we sometimes take for granted things that we would not be allowed to do in other countries. Make a list of freedoms that we celebrate in this country.
- If Bedloe's Island had not been chosen as the site for the statue, what site would you have picked? Write a short essay on why you made your choice.
- Look through today's paper for stories or pictures that demonstrate a freedom we enjoy in the United States. It could be freedom of religion, speech or right of assembly.
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