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The Statue of Liberty, conceived and designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), was given to the United States by France to commemorate its first centennial (one-hundreth birthday). Named by the sculptor "Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue is 152 feet (46 meters) high, weighs 225 tons (204 metric tons), and stands on a pedestal and base that are 151 feet (46 meters) tall. Its flowing;robes are made from more than 300 sheets of hand-hammered copper, draped over a steel frame. The statue remains the tallest in the United States, and the tallest metal statue in the world.
Constructed in France in 1884, the statue's exterior and interior were taken apart piece by piece, packed into 200 mammoth wooden crates, and shipped to the United States in May 1885. Bartholdi places the statue on Bedloe's Island, at the mouth of New York City Harbor. On October 28, 1886, ten years after the centennial had passed, the inauguration celebration was held.
It was not until 1903 that the inscription "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ..." was added. The verse was taken from The New Colossus, composed by New York City poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) in 1883.
The statue was recently refurbished, 100 years after its placement in New York City Harbor, at a cost of $698 million. It reopened on July 4, 1986. One visible difference is that flame of the torch is now made of 24-karat gold-leaf (very thin gold foil), just as in the original design. In 1916, the flame had been reconstructed as a lantern of amber glass. Concealed within the rim of Lady Liberty's crown is the observation deck, which can be reached by climbing 171 steps or by taking the newly installed hydraulic elevator.
Sources: The Guinness Book of Records 1996, pp. 104; How in the World?: A Fascinating Journey Through the World of Human Ingenuity, pp. 359-61; Panati, Charles. Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, pp. 291-93.
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