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Architectural wonders the statue of liberty

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Arguably the most famous structure in the United States, the Statue of Liberty may have been born in France, but it has come to represent our country's ideals.

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Architectural wonders the statue of liberty

  1. 1. Architectural Wonders - The Statue of Liberty
  2. 2. A joyous mood prevailed in New York City on October 28, 1886, despite the wet autumnal weather. Indeed, the city was so thrilled it threw the first ticker tape parade, though the fireworks scheduled for the evening had to be postponed due to the weather. The occasion? The dedication ceremony for the Statue of Liberty, an event big enough to merit the presence of President Grover Cleveland himself. Indeed, even in 1886, Americans understood how important this massive new statue would be.
  3. 3. Today, the Statue of Liberty is among the most iconic structures in the entire world. Her visage appears on American currency, tiny versions of her are sold in shops across the city, and practically any movie or television show set in New York includes a shot of Lady Liberty. Millions of people take the ferry to Liberty Island every year, but even those who have never been to the United States would likely recognize what may be the world's most famous statue.
  4. 4. An Introduction to Lady Liberty
  5. 5. Naturally, like many architectural wonders, part of the Statue of Liberty's fame is due to its sheer size. At 111 feet, 6 inches from her size 879 feet to her crown, the Statue on its own is massive, but when you include the pedestal and its foundation, as well as Lady Liberty's gold-sheathed torch, she towers some 305 feet high. Originally made completely of copper and iron, the Statue of Liberty weighs some 225 tons, all of which, in a high wind, can be seen to sway several inches.
  6. 6. The Statue's full name, "Liberty Enlightening the World," was admirably prescient; for 16 years after its dedication, it served as a lighthouse under the auspices of the US Lighthouse Board. Lady Liberty would later enlighten viewers in a more metaphoric sense, as millions of immigrants hailed her as the first sight of their new homeland on their way to Ellis Island.
  7. 7. While the Statue has been closed to visitors several times throughout its history, most recently in order to repair damages sustained during Hurricane Sandy, it has been open to the public since July 4, 2013, including the Statue's crown, a 354-stair climb from the pedestal. Thanks to modern technology, however, it's possible to see the view from the Statue anywhere in the world via webcam.
  8. 8. The First Steps of a New Colossus
  9. 9. Of course, the Statue did not arrive fully formed off the coast of New York. Instead, her story begins in 1865, when a Frenchman named Edouard de Laboulaye first floated the idea of asking his country to construct a statue in honor of the approaching centennial anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States.
  10. 10. By 1870, Laboulaye had found a sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi, a man who had become intrigued by large-scale monuments following a tour of Egypt. However, Bartholdi's first attempt, a massive lighthouse intended for use along the Suez Canal, failed to materialize due to a lack of funding, and after joining Laboulaye in his mission to create a colossal sculpture for the US centennial, the two quickly found that money was again the main obstacle.
  11. 11. Luckily, a transatlantic fundraising project proved highly successful, especially after Bartholdi selected what was then called Bedloe's Island as the site for the statue and drummed up support among Americans. About 400,000 francs and 102,000 dollars were eventually raised. The American funds financed the construction of the statue’s pedestal, and were amassed with the help of newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer's editorials and an art and literary auction that included contributions from luminaries such as poet Emma Lazarus.
  12. 12. The Statue itself was first constructed in France under the direction of engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, and after its completion, it was sent across the Atlantic in 350 pieces to be reconstructed over the course of four months. Its dedication finally took place in 1886, a decade after the centennial it was intended to celebrate.
  13. 13. Maintaining the Statue of Liberty
  14. 14. As with any structure, in the years since its completion, the Statue of Liberty has required considerable maintenance. Indeed, 20 years after its dedication, Congress was already planning on painting Lady Liberty in response to the natural green patina that had formed on her copper surface. While Congress eventually decided to leave the patina alone, other maintenance was far more necessary. By the 1980s, damage caused by 100 years of coastal weather required a full restoration, during which crews corrected problems like the misplacement of the Statue's head and shoulders while shoring up the iron skeleton within by adding steel supports.
  15. 15. The Statue's Future
  16. 16. However, the centennial restoration, which required the Statue’s closure from 1984 to 1986, was not the last time major repairs were needed. Hurricane Sandy caused $77 million in damages on Liberty and Ellis Islands, and the Statue was closed for another year. Experts worry that climate change will cause further damage to the Statue, especially if the sea level rises at the rate of the most pessimistic projections. While the National Park Service has already made many changes to increase Liberty Island's sustainability, it appears that the engineering work to keep the Statue of Liberty standing tall may never be over.

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