Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous monuments in the world for several reasons.

 Let's start with a bit of history. In 1865, Edouard de Laboulaye, a French politician, suggested building a statue representing liberty in order to honour the American Declaration of Independence. He saw in this project the opportunity to strengthen the democracy in France. In 1870, Frederic-August Bartholdi, who was a French sculptor, started designing the statue and selected the site on which it would be erected: Bedloe’s Island, situated in the Upper Bay of New York and thus visible to every ship. Gustave Eiffel designed the statue’s iron internal support structure. The construction of the internal structure began in 1876. Although the French constructed the statue’s body,  an event that was celebrated with parades on both sea and land. The statue became a national monument in 1924. Between 1935 and 1957, the refurbishment of both the statue and the additional structures took place so as to later attract more visitors. Years later, however, in 1982, the statue was found to be in need of an even greater restoration, which President Reagan consequently ordered. It was finally completed in 1986.

The Americans had to build the pedestal, the construction of which started in 1884. The statue arrived in New York in 1885 and thus the American had to assembly the statue. When this work was finished, it was unveiled on 28 October 1886.
As far as the Statue's appearance is concerned, we might think at first sight and from a distance that it is not very big. In fact, it measures 93 metres, and weighs 225 tonnes.
The female figure represents Libertas, the goddess of freedom. It stands for the value of liberty as Libertas has escaped the chains of tyranny and has moved away from oppression and slavery in the Roman Empire. The broken chains, although difficult to see from the ground, lie on her feet. What first catches our eyes is the torch that she holds in her right hand. “It lights the path to freedom and demonstrates the power of light over darkness”. Moreover, Bartholdi settled on a keystone-shaped tablet in her left hand which reminds us of the concept of law and justice. It reads "July 4, 1776", which refers to the American Independence Day. The United Sates Constitution suggests that all men are equal, regardless of race, sex or social class. It also wears a crown with twenty-five viewing windows and seven spikes that represent the seven oceans and continents. Besides the value of freedom, the Statue has also become a symbol for immigration, representing a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving through Manhattan.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the most visited monument in the United States. Indeed, there were 3.44 million visitors per year during the last seven years. That is ten times less than Central Park or Times Square, which both number 40 million visitors each year. In 2013, there was a drop of the number of visitors. Indeed, Hurricane Sandy swept Liberty Island so that the Statue remained closed for months. Due to the hurricane’s high winds, the park round the Statue was destroyed, but Liberty itself was not damaged.

Moreover, there are a lot of replicas of the monument in many cities such as Austria, Germany, Norway or Spain. 
The main one is in Paris: it was also crafted by Bartholdi on the occasion of the “Exposition Universelle” of 1900. All these replicas show the prestige of the Statue and its importance all over the world.

In conclusion, the Statue of Liberty is an icon of Anglophone culture because it is the symbol of democracy, freedom, justice for everyone. It is a world- renowned monument that is not going to be forgotten or lose its popularity any time soon.

Charlotte Laurent, Camille Persoons, and Pauline Rogien

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