Lady of Liberty 
Kathleen McFadden

     She has one of the most famous faces in the world and has become the most immediately recognizable symbbol of the United States. The Statue of Liberty has presided over New York harbor since 1886, but many problems had to be overcome before she was finally able to take her place on what is now known as Ellis Island. The idea of the Statue of Liberty started when a group of Frenchmen were discussing the sad state of their country's government over dinner and expressed admiration for the way the United States had established a democracy after winning independence from Great Britain. It was 11 years until America's 100th birthday, and one of the men said that France should give the United States a monument to liberty in commemoration of the event. One of the guests at that dinner was a sculptor named Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, and he was captivated by the idea. 

     A few years later, Bartholdi sailed across the Atlantic with sketches of his proposed monument to try to interest the Americans in the project. Everywhere he went, Bartholdi showed his sketch and a small model of Liberty Enlightening the World, the official name of the statue. Many people believed that the sculptor's mother, Charlotte Bartholdi was the model for the statue. Americans were enthusiastic about the idea, but the cost of the project was an enormous hurdle. The way it ultimately worked out, France paid for the statue and the United States paid for the pedestal. 

     The initial plans were to present the statue to the United States on July 4, 1876. But because of money problems and other delays, the statue wasn't completed and dedicated in France until June 1884 and completion of the American pedestal lagged even farther behind the statue. It took the intervention and marketing skills of Joseph Pulitzer to raise enough money to construct the base for the statue, which wasn't completed until two years later in 1886. Then it took six more months to reconstruct the statue at the site. 

     Liberty was finally raised and dedicated in October 1886. In the early 1980s, a nonprofit commission formed to raise money for the restoration of the statue that had deteriorated during the almost-100 years that she had stood over the harbor. The work was completed by America's bicentennial, and on July 4, 1986, President Ronald Reagan presided over a rededication ceremony for the Lady of Liberty who had a brand-new torch.