The history of the Statue of Liberty:
The statue of liberty is a very interesting monument. You might think of it as American made, as its an American monument, but you would be wrong! It was interestingly built in France, shipped over to America, and then installed in New York. Imagine shipping such a huge monstrous amount of metal all the way from mainland Europe. It would be hard enough now. Back then? Well, let's just say the journey is almost as meaningful as the destination. France being willing to ship the statue all the way to the states is arguably as impressive as building it in the first place. But, why did the French build such a statue? France doesn't have a history of being overly generous and friendly. So why would they ship America this huge statue? The reason was their new alliance during the American revolution. France helped tremendously with the revolution, it would have been surely lost if they hadn't. They supplied soldiers, weapons, food, medicine, and even sent over generals to assist with the training of US soldiers. Did France do this out of the kindness of their hearts? No. They did it to spite the British. The logic was if the British were caught up fighting in America they wouldn't have the means to fight in the major European wars at the time. Which was true. Unfortunately for France, and luckily for America, Britain pulled her forces out of the states somewhat to focus on their wars at home. America got a well-deserved victory and took freedom for themselves! France lost its subsequent wars because Britain now had its full strength at home. So it worked out well for everyone. Except for France, perhaps.
How much does the statue weigh?
The Statue of Liberty weighs about 450,000 pounds. It is very, very, heavy. But, it's weight surprises people for a different reason. Many people assume it weighs more. After all, the statue is pretty darn big. Of course, it weighs a lot! But, it is largely hollow inside. There is a lot of space to move around. You can even climb up inside her frame and look out from the top. A popular tourist attraction if you are visiting New York City, of course. The statue is made of quite light metals too. Sure, there is a lot of iron and steel in the framework for structural integrity. Which is, of course, very heavy. But there is also a lot of copper and some gold. Both of which are relatively light and easily workable metals. Copper is also the reason the statue is such an interesting color. The copper oxidizes when it is exposed to the atmosphere and turns a shade of green/blue.
The statue was originally a copper color, like a penny. But over time the copper wears down. There are hundreds of thin layers of copper, as the one on top reacts with the atmosphere it changes color slightly. Then, the layer underneath goes through the same process. Over time, the statue has become a darker and darker shade of greenish-blue until you would have no idea that it had originally been any other color. We see this process in other places. Copper piping outside our homes changes color with the weather. It is normally treated so it doesn't happen as quickly, but it is almost inevitable. You will probably notice it with pennies, too. If you pick a penny up off the ground the green layer might even rub off on your hands.
Some other cool facts about the statue
The Statue of Liberty is pretty cool, it had a very interesting life as we have already covered, and its origin is very special. To the people of France and America. But, there is more to the statue than many people realize. Sure, it's a beacon for freedom and hope across the world, but it's also got some pretty strange quirks. For example, did you know that the statue moves? When the winds get strong enough, the statue will sway gently from side to side. If winds reach speeds of over 50mph the statue herself will sway 3 inches in either direction. Which doesn't sound very far, but imagine if your house swayed ever so slightly in the wind? You'd be terrified to go to sleep during a storm! Her torch is even more prone to swaying, it can move up to 6 inches. Twice as far!
If I were to ask you what the Statue of Liberty holds, you would likely tell me that she holds a huge torch. Which is true! But in her other hand, she holds a carved tablet. Not like an IPad, but a stone tablet. This tablet is 23 feet tall. Which is huge! It helps out the size of the whole statue into perspective. On the stone is the date of American independence inscribed in Roman numerals. She isn't holding them, per se, but there are chains and shackles found at the foot of the statue. These chains represent being set free from her life of servitude. Just as the American people have been set free from a life under the reign of a king who cares nothing for them. This is perhaps the most important part of the statue. The chains represent where the American people are from. The tablet represents what had to be done for their dignity and freedom. The torch represents the future, and what is to come. All of these extra accessories helped contribute to the massive weight of the frame.
She also has a lot more to her than you can see at eye level. Many people fail to consider the foundation that holds the statue in place. Since she weighs so much and tends to be swayed by the wind, it was important for her to be strongly set into the stone at her feet. She is fully anchored in there, so while she may sway there is no chance of her ever toppling over. The foundation is almost all concrete with steel reinforcement. There are 54 million pounds of concrete. The foundation, therefore, weighs over 100 times more than the statue herself. But, since the foundation isn't part of the statue (technically) its weight wasn't included in the weight of the statue.
Going up to the statue's crown was always a very special occasion. You could see the whole bay and a large amount of the city. It was one of the tallest points in the city for a very long time. You would have to climb 154 steps to get to the top of the statue. Once you were there, you would find 25 windows representing gemstones that reflect the lights from heaven. France has been a devotedly Christian nation for around a thousand years. There was certainly supposed to be something angelic about their gift to the Americans. In the hopes, they would continue their devotion to their shared faith. Which, of course, they have. France shipped them a statue together on one ship, though it is fully assembled. Once the statue arrived it left unopened and unbuilt for over a year before the Americans finally got to work. But, in fairness, they had a war to fight. The statue building should come after!
Hopefully, you now know a little more about this wonderful statue. The Statue of Liberty means so much to Americans. But, it means quite a lot to the rest of the world too. It represents the good of the American people, the kindness of France, and that we might find unity even with those we once fought against. And to think, the statue was almost lost when the ship that was transporting her entered rough seas and persistent storms. She very nearly sank, it's a miracle that she didn't. If you want to learn more about the statue, visiting it yourself is always a treat. That being said, it has turned into a bit of a tourist trap. The lines to get in can take all day. But it's worth it. Just, not if you only have a day or two in New York. The best way to see the statue is from the Staten Island Ferry. As you will realize when you notice the number of tourist photographers on the ship.