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October 28 – Statue of Liberty Dedicated

October 28, 1886

The Statue of Liberty is a copper statue designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886. Inspired by Libertas, a robed Roman goddess of liberty, she holds a torch above her head with her right hand and carries a tablet with Roman numerals spelling out July 4, 1776 inscribed on it and walks forward as a broken chain lies at her feet. Throughout the years statue has become an icon of freedom and as well as a national park tourist destination.

Bartholdi was inspired by Edouard Rene de Laboulaye, a French politician and law professor, who is said to have commented that any monument raised to United States independence would be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to post-war instability in France, design of the statue did not begin until the 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that France finance the statue and the United States build the pedestal and provide the final site of the statue. The head and torch-bearing arm were completed before the statue was fully designed and were exhibited for publicity at various international expositions.

The arm was displayed in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New York, from 1876 to 1882 and for a brief time during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Fundraising turned out to be difficult, especially for the Americans, and the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds by 1885. To save the project, publisher Joseph Pulitzer started a donation drive, bringing in more than 120,000 contributors, most which gave less than a dollar. The finished statue was built in France, shipped overseas in pieces in crates, and assembled on top of the completed pedestal on what was then Bedloe’s Island. The completion was celebrated with New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presented by President Grover Cleveland.