The history of the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York, United States

The Statue of Liberty, New York, United States

This enormous neo-classical statue is now a world-famous icon. It represents the very essence of the French People and the ideals at the center of American Constitution, Freedom & Liberty for all. The figure itself is based on Libertas, the Roman Goddess of Freedom.

The Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty.

Conceived 1865 Glatigny, Near Versailles, France, completed in the USA October 28, 1886 at Ellis Island.

Structural Engineers Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (died 1879) and Gustave Eiffel 1832-1923
Plinth Designed by the Architect Richard Morris Hunt 1827-1895

Fredric Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel

The Architect/Sculptor Fredric Auguste Bartholdi conceived the idea of the statue in 1865 after a dinner at the home of Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye. The colossal statue was to be a gift from The French People to the people of the USA to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their independence from Great Britain. Or it could have been to celebrate the end of the American civil war or the end of slavery, no one is quite sure. It is certain however that the tablet held in her hand shows the date July 4th 1776, better known as Independence Day.

There was a problem though; no one had ever built anything on this scale since the bronze Colossus at Rhodes circa 280 BC. Bartholdi first appointed Eugene Viollet-le-Duc but, after a few years work, sadly Monsieur Viollet-le-Duc passed away.

Bartholdi then contacted an up-and-coming French structural engineer, a certain Gustave Eiffel. This was years before Eiffel’s second and perhaps even more iconic structure, The Eiffel Tower. Eiffel was chosen because of his understanding of wind forces.

The design of the 204-ton statue is shown in these contemporary photographs taken by Albert Fernique, which are in the New York Public Library, These photographs were taken in one of the many factories involved in producing the work of art and show the construction methods.

Photographs of the construction of The Statue of Liberty taken by Albert Fernique

Photographs of the construction of The Statue of Liberty taken by Albert Fernique

Eiffel’s revolutionary structural design, which at the time would be the tallest cast iron structure ever built, was also one of the first examples of curtain walling ever produced. He used cast iron to construct an iron truss tower, from which he hung a secondary non-load bearing framework. This was a stroke of genius as the design allowed for the statue to be able to expand during the heat of summer and to contract during freezing winters.

This secondary skeleton was then clad in iron saddles, or iron bands, these bands were then insulated with asbestos, to prevent galvanic corrosion between the dissimilar metals and the hung with more than 300 individually hand beaten copper tiles.

The statue was completely assembled in Paris, dismantled and shipped to the USA.

The pedestal and Joseph Pulitzer

Originally the French were going to give the massive pedestal as part of the gift. However it was deemed too costly. The French raised the funds by lottery and public subscriptions.

The project was not instantly taken to heart by the American Government or indeed the American public. Funding was refused by congress for the plinth. Even at a state level funds were not forth coming.

Joseph Pulitzer to the rescue. He formed a fund-raising committee and made a promise to publish in print the name of every single citizen that contributed towards the project, in his newspapers no matter how small their contribution was. This caught the public’s imagination and the donations came flooding in. 120,000 donations were received by the committee of which more than 80% were in donations less than $1.00. The plinth was very much funded by the poor. I think the ideals the statue stood for must have resonated with the underclass.

The concrete plinth itself, which was designed by the noted American Architect Richard Morris Hunt, The Plinth was at the time the largest concrete structure ever poured. Hunt donated his fee to the project.

The statue’s copper plates would have been a shiny surface until the protective green patina formed. If our beautiful copper-colored PVD had been available, it would still appear as was intended, a beautiful, bright, welcoming copper giant that would sparkle in the sun and moonlight.

Liberty Enlightening The World in its natural copper color

Liberty Enlightening The World in its natural copper color

By Richard Storer-Adam
Managing Director of Double Stone Steel Ltd.

Here we look at every kind of architecture, often including steel and other metals of course, current and historical usually by famous and influential architects but sometimes by names that are surprisingly lesser known.

The Castelar Building, Madrid, Spain – a glass lantern floating above the Paseo de la Castellana - Double Stone Steel

The Castelar Building, Madrid, Spain – a glass lantern floating above the Paseo de la Castellana

The conviction of Rafael de La-Hoz Arderius and Gerardo Olivares to build a minimalist sculpture of steel, glass and travertine on an urban scale.

The story of how the Petersen Automotive Museum leapt into the 21st century with a futuristic steel exoskeleton design strongly influenced by car culture - Double Stone Steel

The story of how the Petersen Automotive Museum leapt into the 21st century with a futuristic steel exoskeleton design strongly influenced by car culture

Robin Fisher explores this building, located at the gateway of Los Angeles' famous Museum Row, extensively renovated through the work of Kohn Pedersen Fox and A.Zahner.

The US Steel Tower, a lasting beacon on the Pittsburgh skyline and legacy of Andrew Carnegie - Double Stone Steel

The US Steel Tower, a lasting beacon on the Pittsburgh skyline and legacy of Andrew Carnegie

Richard Storer-Adam reviews the design and construction of this 64-story skyscraper, built in the 1970’s with Cor-Ten steel, symbolising the triumph of the US Steel industry.

The design story of the Seagram Building, 375 Park Avenue, New York City, built in 1957 - Double Stone Steel

The design story of the Seagram Building, 375 Park Avenue, New York City, built in 1957

Richard Storer-Adam reviews the background and architecture of this iconic modernist glass and bronze tower by German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and American associate architect Philip Cortelyou Johnson.

An examination of the design theory behind Seattle Central Library by OMA - Double Stone Steel

An examination of the design theory behind Seattle Central Library by OMA

Antonio Moll reviews the first work by the Dutch Office in the USA, 16 years after its opening, considering what is probably the most disrupting piece of architecture of the 21st Century.

The Flatiron Building (originally the Fuller Building), designed by Daniel H. Burnham and built in 1902 - Double Stone Steel

The Flatiron Building (originally the Fuller Building), designed by Daniel H. Burnham and built in 1902

Richard Storer-Adam dwells on the genesis of NYC’s most iconic skyscraper and ‘quintessential symbol’ of Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA named after the Flatiron district.

How artists and designers are using metals today and how long this apparently modern trend has been going on for.

Richard Serra: Experiencing Steel and Architecture at Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, Spain - Double Stone Steel

Richard Serra: Experiencing Steel and Architecture at Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, Spain

Gracia Ramírez explains how Richard Serra´s Cor-ten steel sculptures revitalise the experience of the built environment through play with negative space and the counterbalancing of heavy-weight metal structures.

The gargantuan stainless steel memorial to the legendary Mongolian leader Genghis Khan - Double Stone Steel

The gargantuan stainless steel memorial to the legendary Mongolian leader Genghis Khan

Richard Storer-Adam gives an overview of the imposing statue built to commemorate the famous warrior and observes how the process of Physical Vapor Deposition has been incorporated into the design.

An overview of three families of works by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, b.1955 - Double Stone Steel

An overview of three families of works by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, b.1955

Antonio Moll reviews these pieces which, employing light, play with the representation of human heads and alphabetic letters and are created from steel, aluminium, wire mesh, glass and snow.

A journey to visit the The Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavík, Iceland - Double Stone Steel

A journey to visit the The Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavík, Iceland

Richard Storer-Adam takes us on a trip to visit, admire and understand this ethereal and haunting Viking sculpture in polished stainless steel.

Curtis Jere – the partnership between Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels, creating art from a heavenly mix of metals - Double Stone Steel

Curtis Jere – the partnership between Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels, creating art from a heavenly mix of metals

Richard Storer-Adam looks at some of the spectacular artworks and innovative techniques creating pieces which are still sought-after today as iconic mid-century modern art.

The Architect - Double Stone Steel

The Architect

A poem by Richard Storer-Adam on the agony of the late night designing process for an architect.