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A Look at Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty! One of America’s most well known landmarks, Lady Liberty has stood on her own island in the New York Harbor just southwest of Manhattan Island since 1886, and she has welcomed countless visitors and millions of immigrants to a new life in a new country. She has witnessed changes, joys, and even heartaches—yet she has stood the test of time and continues to be a beacon of hope and a representation for freedom for all Americans.

Did You Know?

Almost everyone knows that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate the friendship between the two countries and their common quests for freedom. But did you know that the French sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, originally had the concept of placing the statue of a woman at the opening of the Suez Canal? Did you know that the Statue of Liberty functioned as a lighthouse from 1886 to 1902? Did you know that Lady Liberty’s right arm and torch were on display in Madison Square Park for six years while efforts to raise money to finance the statue and base? Did you know that the statue’s complete name is Liberty Enlightening the World?

Lady In Green

Here’s another neat fact. The Statue of Liberty is actually made of copper, but over the years hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms from various substances in the air have combined with the copper atoms in the statue to make copper hydroxycarbonate (From Exploring Creation With Physical Science by Jay Wile). In other words, the copper has oxidized, and this chemical reaction has created a nice patina—or a green coating on the statue.

Changes Trivia about the history of this famous landmark and statue statistics of the Lady are vast. Surprisingly, I experienced firsthand one of the changes the Statue of Liberty underwent back in 1984. When my high school classmates and I went to Washington and New York for our Junior-Senior trip, we were unable to disembark from our ferry onto Liberty Island and visit the statue because she was closed for repair and renovations. All of our photos showed the Lady from afar, encased in scaffolding. And although we were disappointed, we knew we were also witnessing a piece of history we would never forget! The Statue of Liberty National Monument reopened in 1986.

The Statue of Liberty was also closed after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The monument reopened in 2004, and the crown and interior finally reopened last year (2009) on July 4th.

Resources About the Statue of Liberty

For a family activity, study the history and significance of the Statue of Liberty and the importance of her role in American culture. Below are some website/book suggestions:

The Statue of Liberty (Step Into Reading series) by Lucille Recht Penner

Lady Liberty: A Biography by Doreen Rappaport

The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy Maestro

Building Liberty: A Statue Is Born by Serge Hochain

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen

Written by Amy M. O'Quinn/Originally posted on the National Writing for Children website.

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