Richard Morris Hunt's Statue of Liberty Base
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Photo of Base Aerial View 

Drawing showing interior iron framework  

"Liberty Enlightening the World" 

Head during restoration 1983 

Statue of Liberty Base 
1886 (dedicated) 
Richard Morris Hunt, architect 
Jpg: Library of Congress
 The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. The monument's intent was to celebrate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence, which was in 1876. The sculptor was Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi's and his creation: "Liberty Enlightening the World," the proper full name of the statue, stands more than 300 feet high. 

Parts of it were finished by 1876 but Americans had no place to put it nor the money to erect it. A private campaign was organized and by 1885 the funds were in place to complete it.  

To get it from France to America, the figure was disassembled into 350 pieces and packed in 214 crates and arrived in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885. It was reassembled on Bedloe's Island (renamed Liberty Island in 1956). On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty before thousands of spectators.  

The base is instrumental, not only as a decorative part of the statue, but also important in the structural element of this colossal giant. The sculpture is made of copper sheets which are assembled on a framework of iron grid designed by bridge builder Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (who would in turn design the Eiffel tower for Paris some 13 years later). The interior structure sinks deep into the base which gives it support and strength to withstand any Atlantic storms. 

At the base of the pedestal is inscribed the poem that Americans thought best depicted this generous gift: 

"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.
Emma Lazarus, 1883 
And come they did. Shortly after the opening of the nearby Ellis Island Immigration Station in 1892, more than twelve million immigrants passed by "Lady Liberty" as their first sight of their new home. It would change the face of New York city. The whole immigrant movement would change the face of the entire nation and once again redefine who we are as a people. From 1800 until World War I, the United States grew from five million to one hundred and six million people. "Lady Liberty" was -- and is -- a personification of a collective American dream: that we are a melting pot of free people, self governing, united by a common  guiding flame -- the Jeffersonian principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 




By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2003 all rights reversed
Created 12/28/2000
Updated 1/23/2003