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Statue of Liberty - history

The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France as a symbol of the friendship they built during the American Revolutionary war. Though the statue, whose name translated from the French means Liberty Enlightening the World, was meant as a centenary gift to the American people, the statue was not completed until 1886, nearly 10 years after the American centenary. Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the statue, joined forces with Gustave Eiffel, who later built the Eiffel Tower, who created an inner-structure made of iron to help keep the statue erect. It was the job of the United States to build the pedestal that the statue would stand on. Once completed, the statue was dismantled into 350 individual pieces to be shipped to the USA, and it took four months for her to be reassembled in the U.S. In 1937 the responsibility for the statue transferred to the National Park Service where it has been ever since, and in 1956 the name of the island the Statue of Liberty stands on was changed to Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty is also well-known as being the entry point for immigrants from 1892 to 1952. The poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus illustrates just how important the statue was to those immigrants:

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!”

The poem was so moving it was inscribed in bronze on the pedestal of the statue in 1903.