Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This Day in History

June 19, 1885 : STATUE OF LIBERTY ARRIVES IN NEW YORK HARBOR. Nine years late, the 300-foot statue was a gift from the people of France, who had been the Patriots’ primary foreign ally in the War for Independence, to those of United States as a celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s centenary in 1876. The monumental work is mounted on a steel framework designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue, originally titled “Liberty Enlightening the World” from copper sheets upon a steel frame. After completion, the statue was disassembled into 350 sections and shipped in 214 crates to New York Harbor.

Over a year later, on October 28, 1886, the statue was reconstructed and dedicated in a large public ceremony by President Grover Cleveland. The statue’s pedestal bears the words of poet Emma Lazarus, written in 1883: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door. When the Ellis Island immigration center opened its doors on an island in New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty in 1892, Lazarus’ words welcomed the 12 million immigrants who passed by “Lady Liberty” after trying trans-Atlantic journeys on their way to becoming Americans.