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The Statue of Liberty


The Statue of Liberty (“Liberty Enlightening the World”) is a 225-ton, steel-reinforced copper female figure, 151 ft 1 in. (46.05 m) in height, facing the ocean from Liberty Island1 in New York Harbor. The right hand holds aloft a torch, and the left hand carries a tablet upon which is inscribed: “July IV MDCCLXXVI.”

The statue was designed by Fredéric Auguste Bartholdi of Alsace as a gift to the United States from the people of France to memorialize the alliance of the two countries in the American Revolution and their abiding friendship. The French people contributed the $250,000 cost.

The 150-foot pedestal was designed by Richard M. Hunt and built by Gen. Charles P. Stone, both Americans. It contains steel underpinnings designed by Alexander Eiffel of France to support the statue. The $270,000 cost was borne by popular subscription in this country. President Grover Cleveland accepted the statue for the United States on Oct. 28, 1886.

The Statue of Liberty was designated a National Monument in 1924 and a World Heritage Site in 1984.

On Sept. 26, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon dedicated the American Museum of Immigration, housed in structural additions to the base of the statue. In 1984 scaffolding went up for a major restoration and the torch was extinguished on July 4. It was relit with much ceremony July 4, 1986, to mark its centennial.

Image by Carol Highsmith

On a tablet inside the pedestal is engraved the following sonnet, written by Emma Lazarus (1849–1887):


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes  command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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!”
1. Called Bedloe's Island prior to 1956.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

U.S. Historical MonumentsThe White House

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