300 full-sized plaster sections, from which wooden forms were crafted. The 452 pieces of the statue’s outer skin were made by hammer dressing 0.1-inch-thick (2.5-millimeter) sheets of Norwegian copper against the forms. The structural support for the flimsy envelope was designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, already reputed for his metal structures, in consultation with the architect E. E. Viollet-le-Duc. A central wrought-iron pylon carried a secondary framework of flexible iron bars to which the copper skin was riveted. This dual construction—a lightweight skin on a substantial skeleton—would not only withstand high wind loads but also safely respond to temperature changes. Lack of money slowed progress, but various fund-raising programs meant that Liberty Enlightening the World was completed and assembled in Paris in June 1884. She stood on public display for six months.

The granite pedestal, designed in 1877 by the French-trained American architect Richard Morris Hunt, was constructed in the courtyard of Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island under the direction of the engineer Charles P. Stone. It stood just under 150 feet (45 meters) high on a mass concrete foundation, 90 feet (27 meters) square and 53 feet (16 meters) deep. In the United States, despite art shows, theatrical galas, auctions, and even prizefights, finance was not forthcoming. The statue waited in Paris while the American Committee looked for $100,000 to complete the pedestal. In January 1885 the statue was dismantled into over 300 pieces, packed in 214 crates, and shipped on the frigate Isere, arriving in New York Harbor in June. The funds for the pedestal were finally in hand by August, and the work was finished eight months later. It then took four months to reassemble Liberty Enlightening the World, and the dedication took place on 28 October 1886.

Because her torch was a navigational aid, the statue was first managed by the Lighthouse Board. In 1901 administration was transferred to the War Department, and in 1924 the great figure was declared a national monument. In 1956 Bedloe’s Island was renamed Liberty Island, and in 1965 neighboring Ellis Island, site of a large immigration station, became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Between 1983 and 1986 a $140 million rehabilitation project saw French and American craftsmen repairing failed rivets and replacing the rusted iron core with stainless steel. They strengthened the right arm and replaced the old flame, which had been lit from inside, with a gold-plated copper flame lit by reflection, as Bartholdi had originally intended.

As part of the 1880s fund-raising effort the poet Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet titled “The New Colossus.” In 1903 it was inscribed at the main entrance to the pedestal, and its words embody the meaning that the Statue of Liberty has held for immigrants for over a century:

Further reading

Dillon, Wilton S., and Neil G. Kotler, eds. 1994. The Statue of Liberty Revisited: Making a Universal Symbol. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Price, Willadene. 1959. Bartholdi and the Statue of Liberty. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Trachtenberg, Marvin. 1986. The Statue of Liberty. New York: Penguin.

Stockton and Darlington Railway


The Stockton and Darlington line, the world’s first public railroad, was opened on 27 September 1825. As well as carrying coal, the train drawn by “Locomotion No. 1” had about 550 passengers, most of them in coal wagons but some in a carriage named Experiment. The steam railroad was to change the course of history. There is little in the modern world