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This Day In History, 1886

Well, as long as I'm awake and it's after midnight --


The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, is dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland.

Originally known as "Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue was proposed by the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frýdýric-Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. Its framework of gigantic steel supports was designed by Eugýne-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the latter famous for his design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe's Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York Harbor. In June 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by President Cleveland and attended by numerous French and American dignitaries.

On the pedestal was inscribed "The New Colossus," a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, "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." In 1892, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe's Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of "Lady Liberty." In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument, and in 1956 Bedloe's Island was renamed Liberty Island. The statue underwent a major restoration in the 1980s.

Here's my personal connection:

Everyone knows I grew up in New York City. In 1986, they were planning a special celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Statue to be held the week leading up to the Fourth of July. We were expecting hundreds of thousands of tourists to descend upon the city, and a New Yorker cartoon pretty much summed it up for those of us living there: "Hey, I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but I'm still going to be out of town on the Fourth."

To this day, I have still never set foot on Liberty Island, let alone been to the top of the Statue.

(Hmmm....1986 was also the year my beloved Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series...gnomi, am I allowed to talk about it now?)


gnomi, am I allowed to talk about it now?

Maybe... :-)
Hey, don't forget the taxi strike that weekend in NYC. (I was there; we had a school group that'd been at a conference in DC, then took the train to NYC for the folks who wanted the add-on trip. I haven't been to Liberty Island either, though.)

That was the summer after I'd graduated from high school; I came to Boston to attend BU that fall, just in time to see That World Series.
I remember climbing the Statue: it was an August heatwave, and my mom decided that thermometer indicating the temperature in the Statue must be broken... so we climbed all the steps up to her brow (the arm was already closed). I remember the feeling of accomplishment after all the stairs more than I remember the view, though. :(
Harvard? Cool! I should talk over there and see if they're celebrating. :-)
To this day, I have still never set foot on Liberty Island, let alone been to the top of the Statue.

Claustrophobics (like me) beware, the last 100 feet are so involve an ever-shrinking double-helix (one going up, the other down) spiral staircase, after which you are rewarded with a scratched window the size of a truck's windshield. Sooo not worth it.

When I still lived in NY, I always took my tourist friends to the top of WTC instead. :(


December 2016

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