20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Statue of Liberty
On June 17, 1885, 200,000 people lined the docks of lower Manhattan to watch the French steamer Isère carry the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor. More than 130 years later, join us in celebrating the coming of a national icon with this colossal roundup of trivia.
Consider yourself enlightened
The “Statue of Liberty” is flattered that you recognize her face, but wishes you’d get her name right. According to designer Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the sculpture’s true title is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” These are the history questions people always get wrong.
She had to be pieced together
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock
Like many other first-time New Yorkers, Liberty was a mess when she got here. She arrived from France in 350 pieces, packed into 214 crates aboard an ocean liner. In addition to these Statue of Liberty facts, find out the surprising reason the statue is one of these iconic American landmarks that almost didn’t exist.
She was a trendsetter from day one
Before her dedication ceremony on October 28, 1886, Lady Liberty was inaugurated with a massive parade through Manhattan. As it passed by the Stock Exchange, jubilant day traders rained down torn up ticker tape from the upper windows. Thus began a New York tradition: the ticker tape parade.
She was a beacon of feminism
When women were banned from attending the dedication on Bedloe’s Island that evening, suffragists chartered a boat and held their own ceremony in the nearby harbor, loudly proclaiming the hypocrisy of men “erecting a Statue of Liberty embodied as a woman in a land where no woman has political liberty.”
And, of course, she was a tourist trap
As many as one million people attended the inaugural celebration, where souvenir boys sold doctored photographs of the statue, badges and medals, miniature bronze reproductions, and specialty sandwiches that “tasted as though they had been made from slices of the pedestal,” the New York Times reported. She may be a popular tourist attraction, but as you can tell from these Statue of Liberty facts, Lady Liberty is still one of the must-see spots around America everyone should visit.
She’s a Jersey girl (kind of)
Though the waters surrounding her are technically part of New Jersey, Lady Liberty is the official property of Manhattan, and a proud New York taxpayer (at least, her gift shops are).
She’s been in the neighborhood so long, they renamed it after her
The island where she stands was called Bedloe’s Island (after an early Dutch settler) until 1956, when it was renamed Liberty Island by an act of Congress. If these Statue of Liberty tidbits have you hooked, check out some more fascinating facts you never knew about America.
She doesn’t stand alone
Besides its famous gargantuan tenant, Liberty/Bedloe’s Island has also housed: Oyster beds, a smallpox quarantine station, a Scottish Earl’s summer estate, a recruitment center, and now a National Park and museum. Learn which iconic American landmarks have surprising secret features.