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The Daily Need

Photo: Liberty’s coming out party

The head of the still unfinished State of Liberty on display in Paris in 1883. Photo: Library of Congress

On this day in 1886, the 151-foot-tall Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland. It was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution.

She was originally called “Liberty Enlightening the World” and was sculpted by Frederic-August Bartholdi. Her framework of steel supports was designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the masterminds behind the Eiffel Tower.

The original understanding was that the French would finance the construction and assemble the statue once it arrived, and the Americans would be responsible for building the pedestal, but funding troubles plagued both countries during the project. To raise money, the arm and head of the statue, which was still not fully designed, were put on display at the Paris World’s Fair, Madison Square Park in New York City and at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pa., to elicit donations and engender public support. At the Philadelphia exposition, visitors could climb inside the arm to the balcony for 50 cents.

Construction of the skeleton and plaster surface of the left arm and hand of the Statue of Liberty in France.

In May 1884, the statue was completed in France. It was then disassembled and shipped to America in 350 pieces, which were packed in over 200 packing crates.It was reassembled onto the newly completed pedestal in just four months in 1886, and on the afternoon of October 28, it was dedicated. When originally revealed, the statue was a dull copper color, but by 1906 had been entirely covered in a green patina, created by the oxidation of the copper skin of the statue.

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