Liberty Enlightening the World

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The Statue of Liberty is a figure of a robed woman representing Libertas, a Roman liberty goddess. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed in Roman numerals with the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.

Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Because of the post-war instability in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s.In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the U.S. provide the site and build the pedestal. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions.

Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the colossal copper statue since 1933.The statue was administered by the Public access to the balcony around the torch has been barred for safety since 1916.

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