On June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City to nationwide excitement after making her journey across the Atlantic. A gift from the French government, Lady Liberty was actually modeled after the mother of sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.
Conceived in 1865, the project took over 21 years to build in after first being proposed by Edouard de Laboulay, the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society. Laboulaye hoped that by formally recognizing America’s abolishment of slavery with a significant gift, his own people would demand democracy in the face of an oppressive monarchy.
Before coming to New York, pieces of Lady Liberty were displayed in France-- including an exposition featuring just the crowned head at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. Nearly 10 years later, the copper statue arrived in 350 individual pieces to New York Harbor. From there, it over a year to rebuild on its new pedestal on Bedloe’s Island.
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated Oct. 28, 1886 by President Grover Cleveland.
Over the past 130 years, the statue has served not only as one of New York City’s most easily recognized landmarks, but a true symbol of American freedom.