5 Things you didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is an American icon, one with a rich history. But not many people are aware of the story behind it. You might be surprised by these five facts you didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty.

 

The island that it is located on was first settled by Native Americans

Once Europeans began to colonize the area it forced the Native Americans to move away. Then in 1667 Isaac Bedloe, a Dutch colonist, obtained a land grant for the island. Colonial Governor Francis Lovelace confirmed the ownership on the condition that it was named Love Island. Once Bedloe died and Governor Lovelace was overthrown it would be renamed Bedloe’s Island. Then in 1956 it was renamed Liberty Island by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

bedloe's island

View of the narrows from Bedloe’s Island. (Image courtesy of the New York Public Library)

 

The statue’s base sits on top of an old military fort

Fort Wood was constructed in 1807 in preparation for the War of 1812. Although the fort never saw any action it continued to serve as a military post for more than a hundred years. It was not until 1937 that the military abandoned the post and gave full control over to the National Parks Service. The star shaped walls surrounding the base today are the only remnants left of the original fort.

Fort-Wood-NY

You can see the star shaped outline of the original fort underneath the statue’s base.

 

It was a gift from French civilians

In 1865 Edouard de Laboulaye, a French historian, proposed that a statue be given as a gift to the people of the United States. It was to celebrate the long standing friendship between the two countries and to commemorate America’s centennial anniversary. However, the gift ended up arriving 10 years too late. It was on October 28th, 1886 that President Grover Cleveland officially dedicated the statue.

Edouard de Laboulaye

In this undated portrait sits Edouard de Laboulaye.

 

The inscription on the tablet reads, “July 4, 1776”

Lady Liberty holds a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other. On that tablet is the word July followed by the roman numerals for 4 and 1776. Together it reads, “July 4, 1776”. This signifies the date of the Declaration of Independence, the famous document that declared America’s independence from Great Britain.

statue of liberty

The tablet that Lady Liberty holds.

 

It’s color was originally brown

The Statue of Liberty is made up of copper sheets, which are susceptible to the elements. Over time those copper sheets began to oxidize and give it that green patina we now see.

statue of liberty

In this undated sketch you can see what the Statue of Liberty would have looked like when it was first built.

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