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The Statue of Liberty Arrives In New York June 17, 1885

Getty Images, photo by Mike Tauber

On June 17th, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York as a friendship gift from the people of France. The Statue was not assembled as it is today; it came in 350 separate pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The statue was built by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and commemorated the American Revolution and the friendship between the United States and France.

The statue was dedicated in 1886 by President Grover Cleveland and became a worldwide symbol of freedom and democracy. The statue was originally scheduled for completion in 1876 to mark the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence, but fundraising efforts took longer than expected, the statue cost the French $5.5 million in today’s money. ($250,000 at the time)

The Statue of Liberty is modeled after Bartholdi’s mother. Made of copper and iron the statue weighs 450,000 pounds and was officially dedicated October 28, 1886. French engineer Gustave Eiffel helped in the design of the Statue of Liberty and later became known around the world for his Eiffel Tower.

In 1892, Ellis Island opened as America’s immigration station and the nickname ‘Lady Liberty’ became famous greeting more than 12 million immigrants for the next 62 years. In 1903 a plaque was placed on the interior of the pedestal with the now famous words:

 Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’.

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