The Statue of Liberty in 350 Pieces?

The Statue of Liberty, complete with pedestal, stands about 305 feet tall. It resides on Liberty Island in New York City. However, it wasn’t always that way. What did the Statue of Liberty look like before completion?

“Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi’s Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head”
Photographer: Albert Fernique, Winter 1882?
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Statue of Liberty?

The Statue of Liberty was conceived by Frédéric Bartholdi in 1867. Construction started in late 1875. Originally, it was supposed to be completed by 1876, in time for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. However, funding was short and the project became somewhat of a boondoggle. As such, the statue’s completion was delayed until June 1884.

By 1885, funding for the pedestal had dried up as well. Governor Grover Cleveland (who would later serve as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States) vetoed a bill to contribute $50,000 of New York’s taxpayer dollars to the project. A similar bill, this time for $100,000, failed to pass Congress. Finally, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, initiated a fundraising project and ultimately raised $102,000 from 120,000 donors, 80% of whom sent less than a dollar apiece.

With these new funds, work was completed. Afterward, workers broke it down into 350 pieces and shipped it to America. It was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886 by newly elected President Grover Cleveland. Below, you can see some pictures of the Statue of Liberty during the construction process and at the inauguration, courtesy of the Library of Congress. Enjoy!

“Colossal hand and torch ‘Liberty'”
Centennial Photographic Co. – 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

“Head of Statue of Liberty on display in park in Paris”
Photographer: Albert Fernique, 1883
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

“Liberty enlightening the world–Inauguration of the Bartholdi Statue, Harbor of New York–Military and naval salute, the President’s arrival at Liberty Island”
October 28, 1886 (published in 1887)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


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