This is historical reference material from the public domain book “Statue of Liberty Indelible Photographs” by Seymour Durst. This blog post focuses on the information of the book that directly relates to the construction and the inauguration of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. If you enjoy this material below please feel free to read or download the Ebook “Statue of Liberty Indelible Photographs” absolutely for FREE by going to the bottom of this post.
When M. Bartholdi conceived the idea of the statue he naturally began at once to think of the different ways in which it could be executed. Having studied the most remarkable works of this kind of past and modern times, that were either carved in stone or cast in metal, he came to the conclusion that the immense proportions of the statue would not permit its execution in either of these forms, because it would become so heavy that no power on earth could lift it into place, and on the other hand it would be too costly. In ancient times metal beaten out into sheets had already been used, and this same process had been employed two centuries ago in the execution of the statue of Ct. Charles Borromeo, on the shore of the Lago Maggiore, in Italy. Copper, in thin sheets, was laid upon a frame or skeleton of stone, wood and iron, and worked with the hammer inside and outside into shape. Such method of work is called “repoussee,” which means “hammered.” This process allows a large subdivision in the pieces and renders transportation easy. Bartholdi therefore adapted the repousse.
The first-step to the execution of the work was to make a model just one fourth the size of the real statue. After this came the task of making the full-size model in plaster. This was done in sections. Having marked on the floor an outline plan of the section, a wooden frame-work was built, and upon it plaster roughly spread. In this pile of plaster the workmen copied every feature of the model section, patiently measuring, correcting, trying and retrying till M.Bartholdi was satisfied with their work. When these sections in plaster had been completed, wooden molds, exact copies both in size and modeling of the plaster, were made. In these molds sheets of metal were laid, and beaten down till they fitted the irregular surfaces of the mold. Each sheet of copper was from one to three square feet and two and a half million meters thick, and there were 300 sheets needed for the completion of the enormous statue. Heavy iron beams, firmly riveted together, hold this large copper shell in place. The whole work was done in the celebrated house of Gaget, Gauthier & Co., of Paris, and the statue was completely mounted in the spring of
Beside it the other immense statues appear quite small. The Bavaria, at Munich, measures 15 meters; the Virgin of Puy, 16 meters; Arminius, 28 meters; St. Charles Borromeo, 24 meters; and the Column Vendome, 44 meters. The famous Colossus of Rhodes was but a miniature comparison with the Statue of Liberty.
The statue remained in Paris exposed to public view until January 1st 1885. Then it was taken down with great care, all the pieces being marked according to a classification which was simple and easy to follow, and the whole work was packed up in 210 cases. About the middle of May the State vessel Iserp sailed from Rouen with the statue aboard, and arrived in the harbor of New York on June 17th.
The mounting of the statue began in the spring of 1886, under the supervision of General Charles P. Stone, the engineer-in-chief. The inauguration took place on October 28th, 1886, in the presence of President Cleveland, and a delegation from France, headed by Bartholdi, Comte de Lesseps, etc., and amid great popular rejoicing and demonstrations.
No better site could have been selected for the gigantic statue then Bedloe’s Island. Here it stands as a Pharo at the threshold of the New World. Hundreds of ships will be guided nightly by its torch, and millions of people will witness the grand sight from their homes. The view from the Veranada of the Torch, or the balcony of the pedestal, is truly and overwhelmingly grand. To the west and south spreads the wide bay, with the low Jersey shore and the blue Orange Mountains beyond. The hills of Staten Island and the Narrows, with a glimpse of the sea between, frame the gorgeous picture in the south. The cities of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken, and all the white villages clinging to the hills beyond, are to be seen in a birds-eye view, and the delighted eye may on clear days even discover the Highlands glimmering on the far southern horizon.
What a pretty sight it is to watch from the statue the ferryboats, swinging the great arms of their uncovered walking-beams, the stately ships at anchor or sailing to and fro, and the majestic ocean steamships coming in from all zones.
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