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Learn about Lady Liberty

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By: Courtney Newman

 

Lady Liberty, also known as the Statue of Liberty, is an iconic sculpture known worldwide.  This monument is more than just a statue, it is a global representation of freedom! Millions of immigrants have passed under her torch as they entered New York to begin new lives in America, which has made her a symbol of hope for our nation.  On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated, which is what we are celebrating today!  What better opportunity to learn about the Statue of Liberty history than in recognition of her dedication date? 

 

Here are ten fun facts to get started!

  • The last rivet was secured on the statue during its dedication.
  • Lady Liberty arrived in New York disassembled and in 200 different boxes.
  • The Statue of Liberty was first built in France and then shipped to America.
  • When measured from base to top of the torch, the statue is 151 feet tall, which is the height of a 15-story building.  However, when including the pedestal, it reaches 305 feet, which is equivalent to a 22-story building!
  • Lady Liberty’s crown offers 25 windows with a view of the New York Harbor.
  • The seven points of her crown represent the seven seas and seven continents.
  • Just a single point of her crown weighs 150 pounds!
  • Liberty’s feet are 25 feet long!
  • The dedication by President Cleveland was attended by American and French dignitaries alike.
  • In 1924, Lady Liberty was declared a National Monument.

 

The Fascinating History of Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by France as a birthday present for America’s 100th birthday!  Further, the reason for the Statue of Liberty was also as a token of friendship in commemoration of the Franco-American Alliance during the American Revolution.  Lady Liberty was designed by a French sculptor, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, after the idea was proposed by the French historian, Edouard de Laboulaye. The official name for the North America Statue of Liberty in English is: “Liberty Enlightening the World.”  The idea for this sculpture came from a dinner party in France in 1865, when a group of Frenchman held a discussion comparing the reality of their dictator-like emperor to the democratic freedom of the United States. As a result, they wanted to build a monument to celebrate the freedom offered to all in America.  Consequently, Lady Liberty’s burning torch symbolizes the light of freedom.  Further, broken shackles lay at her feet to represent liberation from oppression and tyranny.

Lady Liberty stands tall in the New York Harbor on Liberty Island.  Congress approved the use of that site for the statue in 1877, which was exactly where Bartholdi had desired to place the statue as a welcome to immigrants and visitors alike as ships entered the harbor.  Interestingly enough, Liberty Island was originally named Bedloe’s Island until the name was changed in 1956. On the island, the U.S. monetized and constructed the pedestal as the foundation, while the statue itself was funded by French supporters.  The pedestal features a bronze plaque with a beautiful sonnet by Emma Lazarus to welcome immigrants to America. The Statue of Liberty was placed in her final home on Liberty Island in 1886.

Though Laboulaye presented the original idea for Lady Liberty, and Bartholdi designed the magnificent statue, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel — the designer of the Eiffel tower — worked on designing the skeletal framework of the statue itself.  Clearly, he had plenty of experience for the project! His expertise was foundational to the statue remaining upright through the years. Per his design, the interior of the statue is constructed of an iron framework to withstand the incredible weight of the statue: 450,000 lbs!

We all know the Statue of Liberty is a colossal figure, but how big is it exactly?  To get an idea, from the bottom of the pedestal to the windows in Liberty’s crown, there are 354 steps.  Her face alone is 8 feet tall, and her waistline is 35 feet across!

 

 

10 Books Inspired by The Statue of Liberty 

The Statue of Liberty is not only an official national monument in the United States, but it is also a deeply emotional symbol of freedom and hope.  It has easily become one of the major symbols of America, and also of peace and strength between countries. This statue is probably one of the first things children learn about, likely before an official history lesson.  After all, the statue saturates our society in reference to the U.S. and New York, whether in pictures, movies, videos, and more.  

It is often far more fun to grab books or videos for these learning moments rather than just doing a quick Google search — and you might learn something new yourself!  These resources can be a wonderful way to teach your kid history. Thankfully, there are several wonderful books available for homeschoolers to read about Lady Liberty’s story.  Here are ten of our favorite books to get started teaching this interesting history for kids!

 

 

“Her Right Foot” by Dave Eggers. This book is beautifully illustrated and the perfect choice to engage younger kids with an understandable retelling of Lady Liberty’s history.

 

 

 

“We Came to America” by Faith Ringgold. A short book filled with captivating illustrations and a direct storyline explaining the concept of immigration and the diversity that comprises America.

 

 

 

“Emma’s Poem” by Linda Glaser. Emma Lazarus wrote a poem to welcome immigrants after recognizing the stark contrast between her own life and the lives of poor immigrants in the harbor.  Her poem was moving enough to be displayed on the Statue of Liberty itself!

 

 

 

 

“Anna & Solomon” by Elaine Snyder. A touching story about sacrifice and family values.  The book features the perspective of immigrants trying to start new again in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

“Blue Sky, White Stars” by Sarvinder Naberhaus. A simple book with beautiful illustrations and a powerful message about unity and values.

 

 

 

 

“The Story of the Statue of Liberty” by Betsy & Giulio Maestro. This book covers the creation and birth of Lady Liberty in breathtaking watercolors!

 

 

 

 

“What is the Statue of Liberty?” by Joan Holub. An engaging retelling of the story behind the Statue of Liberty: why it was given as a gift, how it was made, and how it took its longstanding place in the New York Harbor.

 

 

 

 

“L is for Liberty” by Wendy Cheyette Lewison. This book is geared toward younger readers with easy-to-understand vocabulary as it celebrates the purpose of the Statue of Liberty, and what it has meant to immigrants and citizens alike for years.

 

 

 

“Liberty’s Journey” by Kelly DiPucchio. With a different twist on the classic history, this book is a fictional story about the Statue of Liberty going on a journey across the country!

 

 

 

 

“Lady Liberty: A Biography” by Doreen Rappaport. This book is a great biography about history often unknown: starting with the man whose dream was to create a monument to “enlighten the world”!

 

 

 

The Statue of Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States, and has become a symbol of freedom, safety, and peace.  Those who pass under her torch are filled with hope for a better life and a fresh beginning. Further, Lady Liberty held deep meaning for the rest of the world: the possibility of peaceful alliances, friendships between nations, and a reminder of humanity’s precious value.  While mere iron and copper in form, the Statue of Liberty has stoked a fire in hearts around the globe.

 

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