Thursday, August 6, 2009

Liberty: At Last

Until last week, I had never visited the Statue of Liberty. I had viewed it from the shores of both New Jersey and New York andI had planned to swim in front of it, but I had never gone to Liberty Island and toured the Lady herself.

Having just finished my Pursuit of Happiness bead journal, imagine my delight in finally getting to view Lady Liberty, up-close-and-personal. Though we couldn't get tickets to go into the crown, we were able to secure tickets to visit the museum and pedestal -- and that was enough.

There were many, many gifts of enlightenment I received that day as a result of my tour...

  1. The Statue of Liberty was the result of collaboration not only between France and America; but between some of the most brilliant artists and engineers of the 19th century. It was their combined passions and their collaborations that have resulted in the statue we have today.
  2. To many Frenchmen, who had lived under predominantly monarchical rule. America's republican government was the embodiment of a French ideal, a working example of liberte, egalite and fraternite in an age of reason. But it was one Frenchman, Edouard de Laboulaye -- a French expert on American constitutional history AND a distinguished professor and lecturer -- who hosted a legendary dinner in 1865 which gave rise to the idea of the creation of a gift to the U.S. -- "La Liberte Elcairant le Monde" or Liberty Englightening the World -- which was her official original title. He wanted the gift to symbolize the shared principles that united the interests of both France and the U.S. and he led a tremendous fund raising campaign in France that resulted in raising $4oo,ooo to build the gift.
  3. The French sculptor, Frederic Bartholdi, attended the dinner and had his own dream to build a colossal statue. He was driven to create this dream and didn't give up until he had achieved it. When he visited New York, he saw the island in the middle of the harbor and convinced New York that the statue must be located there.
  4. The French wanted the Liberty statue to be a symbol of American independence and be a gift for our 100th anniversary -- they felt that the project would be more meaningful if it were a combined effort of both nations. That meant America had to pay for and build the pedestal. At first, America didn't want the present, didn't want to be bothered...and fund raising was limited to New York and to a handful of wealthy New Yorkers, many of whom of French descent. Even with 10 years notice, America's pedestal was still not ready after the statue was complete so Liberty sat in France for two years from 1884-1886.
  5. The turn of events in America occurred when in March 1885, Joseph Pulitzer (of Pulitzer prize fame and publisher of The New York World newspaper) appealed to American pride and ran a series of cover stories on the front page of his paper asking the American people to embrace the gift from France...donating anything they could...and he would print the names of everyone who gave regardless of the donation amount. Brilliant! Small, individual donations from the American public fueled the fund-raising campaign, resulting in enough money to build the pedestal.
  6. The statue itself is hollow and is a patchwork of fairly-thin, pieced-copper -- only about 2 pennies thick -- a copper quilt, of sorts. You can really see the patches in this close up picture.
    The sculpture was made using the Repousse method which hammers the design over a mold from the inside.
  7. It sways in the wind and is expands/contracts with weather because of the complex and ingenious structural framework which supports Liberty from inside...designed by Gustave Eiffel (just a few years before he designed the Eiffel Tower...) -- I never knew any of this!
  8. I could go on and on but the story and evolution of this monument to our Nation's liberty is really compelling and very inspirational. To me, the Statue of Liberty had always inspired feelings of national pride, protection and strength in our nation's ideals. But now, I also see the Statue of Liberty as a modern marvel; a phenomenon of the ingenuity of man himself. Liberty first started out as a lighthouse in New York's harbor and her torch housed a small dim light. The torch was redesigned many times and today it is gilded so that it reflects the sun during the day and it is illuminated at night.
  9. As the statue aged and the copper began to oxidize, the verdigris color began to grow like "lichen" on the statue. Bertholdi, her sculptor, was horrified and there was talk of cleaning her or painting her white. Who knew? I can't imagine her any other color. Of course, when she was first built she was gleaming copper color, slowly darkening until her verdigris coat was complete.
  10. Now, her verdigris colors spread down the granite-faced pedestal. And I think that was one of the most amazing discoveries of the day for me. Even though I couldn't touch her coppery skin, her essence was coming down to meet me on the observation balcony of the pedestal.
  11. I was fascinated by the colors as you can tell. So much so, that I took color samplings for you and painted this palette...they are very soothing colors...
  12. One last funny thing I learned...I learned when you lay yourself down on the ground to try to get a picture of the kids AND the full statue in the background...other tourists start to think it's a good idea and start lying on the ground too. I wish I had taken a picture of THAT!
I wonder what will become of these colors of Liberty and if they will seep into some future project...because I can't seem to wash them away no matter what I do.

I'm on vacation for the next 10 days or so. I may post a few times while I'm away but, if I don't, you'll know why...and I will try and post Charm School next Tuesday.

Thank you France!


Marty52 said...

Great post, Susan! The kids look like they enjoyed it as much as you did! The colors running down the grout in the stone are stunning... quilt colors to me. Thanks for this!

LuAnn Kessi said...

Thank you for all of the images and information about the Statue of Liberty. I was born and raised in New Jersey, just minutes from NYCity. My elementary school field trips always included a trip to the Statue of Liberty and a ride on the ferry in the NY Harbor, visits to the museums. Now I live on the west coast in Oregon and rarely visit NYC. It was wonderful to see the statue again......brought me back to my childhood.
Thanks for the Memories,
LuAnn in Oregon

Lyn said...

Lovely Post and fantastic pictures.

Carol said...

As you know, I think these are the perfect vacations. The kids will never forget how the statue came to be, and you got to see a American Icon that means so much to you.

Wouldn't you have loved to see her when she was copper?!!

Thanks for the post. I never dreamed she was constructed as she is.


Allison Ann Aller said...

What incredible photographs!!!!!!

Mary Timme said...

I would have loved to seen all the people getting pictures from the ground of their own children and lady liberty! What a fun post.

Marnie said...

One word - SPECTACULAR! Color me, ahem, green!

Robin said...

I love this post!!!! Colors of liberty... what a delightful concept! Did you take the first image in your post? If so, big kudos... it's a contest winner. And so is the one looking up at the kids. I'm going to save and print the colors swath... fascinating! Thanks and have a fab vacation!

Judy S. said...

Fabulous photos, Susan, and very interesting information. I've only seen the statue from the ferry, so I really enjoyed your closeups. Thanks!

Pollydo2003 said...

Susan thanks for the post, I'll be there myself in 3 weeks. We have never been to the US, Canada and Alaska, and so this is my childhood dream coming true. Your info re the lovely lady is great, shall try that photo shot, maybe I'll get the crowds?????

Your Aussie Friend still in the UK.

Ati. Norway. said...

Thank you for the beautiful photos and the story.I knew that the staue was a gift from France but never learned the reason.

Wanda said...

Wonderful pictures and commentary. Yes, she sure is a powerful lady. She was the first person so many people saw as they arrived in a new country. Including my Dad. He arrived at Ellis Island but his first glimpse of the United States was the Statue of Libery. She has always had a very special place in the hearts of my family. We live in the best country in the world! People always know I"m an American from a mile away even though I've lived abroad for over 20 years. And you know what? I never ever want to lose that!!

TattingChic said...

What a fabulous excursion! I do remember the one time I got to see Lady Liberty! I shall always remember it. I had to climb to the top to look out of the crown by myself (in a line of 1500 people climbing up that tiny spiral staircase and hoping no one had beans prior to the climb, LOL!) because the person I was with couldn't climb the stairs. She waited for me on the ground. What a thrill to look out the crown windows and see what was written on the tablet! :)

lenna said...

Susan ~
Your palette of colors is quite peaceful and I love the colors that have seeped into the stone.
I love that aqua color so much.
Great post! I would love the visit The Lady someday. France did a good thing when they gave us the statue. She is so beautiful!
God Bless ~

Kerri said...

Thank you for this post. I have never been to Liberty and hadn't thought about it much but now I have to put this on my life list to see! Thank you again! I really enjoyed your post. Have a great vacation!


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