The Statue of Liberty is perhaps one of the most well known symbols of the United States. Situated at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York City, once new immigrants heading to Ellis Island saw the statue they knew that they were home and that they were to begin a new, better, more prosperous life. But the statue itself also has an amazing history. Here are five facts to fill you with awe for this totally American icon.
People used to live on Liberty Island
The name of the island where the statue is based in the Hudson River is called Liberty Island, and there have been several people who have tried to make the island their homestead. In fact, there was a couple living on the island as late as 2012. The couple, whose last name is Luchsinger, lived for free on the island. How did they get such a sweet deal? The husband, David, worked for the national parks service and helped with the upkeep of the statue. Sadly, his house sustained serious damage during Hurricane Sandy, forcing the couple to move out of their free New York City home.
You used to be able to climb to the torch
If you visit the statue of liberty today, you can climb (or take an elevator) all the way up to the crown of Lady Liberty. However, at one point you were able to go all the way up to the tippy top of the torch. However, the torch has been off limits to tourists ever since the Black Tom terror attack of 1916. German agents came in and blew up almost 2 million tons of explosives destined for the British. The shrapnel (as well as blast which had the same amount of force as a 5.5 magnitude earthquake) damaged the structural integrity of the torch, and the torch observation deck has been closed ever since. For those who still want to see the view however, there is a webcam on the top.
The statue is modeled after a real person
When sculptor Frederic Bartholdi wanted to make the world’s most impressive and famous statue, he decided that he would model the statue on the most important woman in his life – his mother. Thats right, the woman giving so much hope to so many immigrants throughout the past hundred plus years was the sculptor’s mom. This secret was let out when a French politician accompanied the sculptor to the opera one evening, and saw a woman who happened to look exactly like the statue. When asked, the sculptor wasn’t shy and said “Yes, this is my mother.”
The sculptor wanted another statue
The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most famous statue in one of the most important trading ports in the world, but the sculptor wanted to make a second statue on the other side of the planet and wanted her to be no less famous. He wanted to build this statue however, in Egypt, at the mouth of the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean sea to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. According to reports, the statue was set to be of an Egyptian woman holding a lantern to “light the way to Asia.” The project never got off the ground due to the fact that the Egyptians weren’t willing to pay for it.
The statue arrived in pieces
The Statue of Liberty is much too big to have been transported by ship. So each piece was built and sculpted separately, and was ultimately assembled in its present form on Liberty Island. Imagine seeing just a giant head laying on a ship. Oh wait, that picture totally exists.