16 Little-Known Facts About the Statue of Liberty
But even if you have ventured to Liberty Island to see the iconic statue, there may be a lot you still don’t know about this beacon of freedom. Here are some little-known facts that may just entice you to pay her another visit.
1. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France—kind of.
Meant to represent freedom and democracy, the statue was co-funded with French and American money. Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer ran a crowd-funding campaign and raised more than $100,000 in donations to help make the statue a reality—a fact that’s honored with a statue of the publisher on Liberty Island.
2. The Statue of Liberty is not her official name.
The Statue of Liberty is one of many nicknames this leading lady has acquired over the years. Her full name is Liberty Enlightening the World, but she’s also been known as Aunt Liberty, Green Goddess, Lady of the Harbor, Lady Liberty and Mother of Freedom, among other nicknames.
3. The statue is a combination of Roman goddess and beloved mother (maybe).
The statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. Additionally, it’s widely thought that the sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi modeled the statue after his mother. Others believe the statue’s face better resembles Bartholdi’s brother, therefore explaining the statue’s somewhat masculine facial features.
4. Lady Liberty’s sculptor did other works for the U.S.
Bartholdi designed a number of other notable statues in his time, including a statue of Revolutionary War hero Lafayette in New York’s Union Square and Bartholdi Fountain, now located along the National Mall in Washington D.C. The fountain was first created for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Eventually, the U.S. Congress bought it and moved it to D.C.
5. She’s made from a variety of metals.
The statue is made of an inner framework of iron and a copper exterior held together with tin and lead.
7. Lightning does strike twice — and then some.
When it comes to Lady Liberty and her conducive copper material, lightning strikes the statue many times each year. However, the exact number is unknown.
7. The Statue of Liberty almost didn’t come to New York City.
Initially, the sculptor pitched the idea for the sculpture to Egypt for the Suez Canal. Then, both Boston and Philadelphia were in the running for the statue, but ultimately New York City was selected.
8. Liberty Island, where she lives, has an elaborate history.
In its history, the island has had a few names including Love Island and Bedloe’s Island, and was home to everything from a smallpox quarantine station to a wealthy family’s summer retreat to a fort before the statue’s first cornerstone was laid in 1884. It was renamed Liberty Island in 1956.
9. People used to live on Liberty Island.
A few select residents have had the privilege of calling Liberty Island home. Military families used to reside in part of the pedestal up until the 1930s. Additionally, the National Park Ranger who oversees the statue used to receive free housing on the island. However, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy damaged the brick house beyond repair.
10. There is a live stream from the torch.
You can get a bird’s eye view from the torch without leaving your living room thanks to the TorchCam. The live-streaming camera was installed in 2011. You can gaze out into New York harbor or zoom in on the torch and other details on the statue.
11. Official ferries are the only way to get to Liberty Island.
Private vessels are not allowed to dock at Liberty Island. However, sailing around New York Harbor will offer fantastic views of the statue and much more.
12. There are 40 blank medallions on the pedestal.
The medallions were added to recognize contributions from states across the country. However, none of the 38 states at the time donated any funding, so the discs are blank.
13. It took over 30 years for the statue to turn green.
The statue looked like a brand-new penny when it was unveiled in 1886, but by 1920 the exterior oxidized to the green hue still observed today.
14. The copper used for the statue’s exterior could make 30 million pennies.
The statue’s copper sheeting weighs 31 tons overall and is 3/32 of an inch thick—about the thickness of two pennies put together.
15. The National Park Service oversees the statue and Liberty Island.
16. She is still the tallest statue in the contiguous U.S.
A 305 feet with her base, the Statue of Liberty was once the tallest structure in the U.S. While countless buildings have since surpassed her 22-story stature, at 151 feet without her base, she still holds the title of tallest statue in the contiguous 48 states.
The Birth of the New World statue in Puerto Rico, which is 360 feet tall and was completed in 2016, now surpasses her and all other statues in North America.