The top landmark that most tourists want to see when they come to New York City is the Statue of Liberty. Standing over 151 feet tall, the statue was a gift from France following the American Civil War and embodies the idea of freedom. Packed with symbolism, the monument is visited by thousands of people every day, all flocking to Liberty Island to catch a glimpse of what is arguably the world’s most famous statue.
Although Lady Liberty isn’t the world’s biggest statue, she is an icon of American culture and has an interesting story behind her. Check out these top 10 facts you didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty.
10 She’s Modeled On A Real Person
It comes as a surprise to most people that Lady Liberty was modeled on a real person. Mental Floss points out that she was actually modeled on the mother of Frederic Bartholdi, the designer of the statue.
The designer told French Senator Jules Bozerian that the statue was based on his mother, Charlotte, back in 1876. He invited the Senator into his box at the opera, where there was a pocket-sized version of the statue waiting for him. It was here that he revealed the inspiration behind the statue.
9 Lightning Has Struck Her Before
It’s hard to believe that the Statue of Liberty has been struck by lightning before. Even more shocking is the fact that experts believe she has been struck more than once. Much more than once. Some estimate the number to be at around 600 bolts of lightning per year.
Wild weather does really affect the statue, even though she looks strong enough to withstand a hurricane. According to the EF blog, Lady Liberty sways in the wind. When winds reach 50 mph, she can sway up to six inches left and right.
8 Lady Liberty Is Deeply Symbolic
Of course, the statue is stunning to look at, drawing in millions of tourists. But she is also deeply symbolic. Her crown halo, for example, contains seven rays. These resemble the seven continents of the world and the seven seas.
Famously, the statue’s feet are also chained with shackles that have been broken. The tablet that she holds features the writing JULY IV MDCCLXXVI which is the date of American Independence. My Modern Met explains that the statue faces southeast to welcome immigrant ships to the United States.
7 Nobody Is Allowed To Climb The Torch
There was a time when tourists were allowed to climb up to the top of the torch of the Statue of Liberty. But nowadays, nobody is allowed to climb the torch as it carries too many risks. The rule has applied since 1916 when there was an explosion on the harbor island of Black Tom.
The blast damaged surrounding infrastructure, including the torch on the Statue of Liberty. But terrorism is the primary concern backing the decision to prohibit people from climbing up to the top of the torch.
6 The Statue Is A French Export
Few landmarks are as quintessentially American as the Statue of Liberty. The statue is almost synonymous with the city of New York. In actual fact, though, Lady Liberty was designed and sculpted in France and given to the United States as a gift. It was actually a gesture of friendship that was needed after the Civil War.
Pieces of the statue were exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris before they were transported over the Atlantic Ocean. You can still see relics of the landmark in Paris today.
5 Egypt Was Going To Have Its Own Statue Of Liberty
New York City is the only city in the world to boast its own full-size Statue of Liberty. But there was a time when Egypt was going to receive its own statue from the same designer. Bartholdi proposed building a sculpture to place at the entrance of the Suez Canal.
Although the statue would have looked different from Lady Liberty in some ways, there were going to be some similarities. The statue would have been called Egypt Carrying Light to Asia and would have consisted of an Egyptian peasant woman wearing a veil and holding a lantern.
4 She Wasn’t Always Green
The green hue of the Statue of Liberty is what makes her so instantly recognizable around the world. It also helps her to stand apart from other famous statues. Interestingly, the statue wasn’t always green. Originally, she was actually a reddish color, similar to the one penny coin in American currency.
So how did she get so green? Experts have revealed that the color comes from the reaction of the copper coating the surface of the statue to the air. A green veneer was formed as a result over the next two decades.
3 The Statue Almost Didn’t Make It To America
It really is hard to imagine New York without Lady Liberty, which is one of its most iconic landmarks. That may have been the reality if the statue never made it to America, which was once a very real possibility.
The statue was shipped in 214 crates and shipped to the United States from France in 1885. The voyage took a whole week longer than expected because of a storm that nearly caused the ship to sink. Imagine how devastating it would have been to lose the one-ton monument to the Atlantic Ocean!
2 Some People Really Lived On Liberty Island
Most people think of Liberty Island as a tourist destination, and today it is. But according to Mental Floss, it has served as home to Americans in the past. The superintendent of the Statue of Liberty, David Luchsinger, lived on the island with his wife up until 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit.
Luchsinger was provided with his own small brick house on the other side of the island, so he could be close to the statue at all times. The hurricane did irreparable damage to the home, forcing the superintendent and his wife to move off the island.
1 The Statue Of Liberty Is The Shortened Name
The top fact that most people find surprising about the Statue of Liberty is that it’s not really called the Statue of Liberty. Not officially, anyway. This popular moniker is a well-known nickname and nothing more. Officially, the statue is called Liberty Enlightening the World. In French, it is called La Liberté Éclairant le Monde.
Even though the names are different, both center around the idea of liberty. Liberty is actually a translation of the Latin name Libertas, who was a Roman goddess symbolizing freedom and is captured through the statue.