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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.

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NEW YORK CITY -10 DEC 2017- View of The Statue of Liberty in New York, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

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.

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Detail of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island at New York City.

She has a face a mother could love…

…specifically, Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte, who is rumored to be the model for Liberty’s massive copper visage. (Not to be neglected, Bartholdi’s wife posed for the arms and torso.)

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The feet of the Statue of Liberty arrive on Liberty Island 1885. The statue was a gift from the people of France to the United States, It represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom.
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

She had to be pieced together

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.

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New York: Inauguration of Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty in 1886 with A Firework Display 1886

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.

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1887 - New York - Welcome to the land of freedom - An ocean steamer passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the steerage deck.

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.”

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Visitors leaving the pier pass those moving toward the base of the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island in New York's harbor on . Summer week-ends are especially busy, as tourists crowd the excursion boats which travel to the island from the foot of Manhattan Island
Ed Ford/Shutterstock

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.

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Aerial view of Liberty Island, New York City.

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).

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CLOSE UP LOW ANGLE VIEW Iconic Lady Liberty - the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York Harbor against breathtaking golden sky at twilight. Famous copper sculpture resplendent in golden hues

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.

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Oyster bed exposed by the low tide
StacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock

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.

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close up of the statue of liberty

Her wardrobe is massive

Despite easy access to Manhattan shopping, the Lady is a picky dresser. She wears a size 879 shoe and has a 35-foot waistline. How do those crazy stats stack up against the rest of these Statue of Liberty facts?

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AERIAL, CLOSE UP, ESTABLISHING SHOT: Flying around Lady Liberty statue on island full of tourists in New York Hudson River. Famous Statue of Liberty standing proudly in New York

Her looks are deceiving

She weighs 204 metric tons, but don’t call her fat. The Lady’s copper skin is extremely thin—barely 1/16th of an inch thick, to be exact.

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Statue of Liberty
Anne Fulton/Shutterstock

Green is not her natural color

At first Liberty was a dull, copper brown—however, as copper oxidizes over time, it develops a patina (or “healthy green glow”) to protect from further deterioration. By 1906, she was green from head to toe. Learn more Statue of Liberty facts about her unusual color change.

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Statue of Liberty Crown
The Speedy Butterfly/Shutterstock

She carries a lot on her noggin

There are seven rays on the Lady’s crown, one for each of the world’s seven continents. Together, they give her a hat that weighs more than 1000 pounds.

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Statue of Liberty, NY
Wareepan Hungsasut/Shutterstock

Luckily, she gets a stretch in now and then

Another surprising Statue of Liberty fact: In winds of 50 mph or more, the statue can sway up to three inches, and the torch arm up to six.

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The Statue of Liberty is Seen Illuminated at Night in New York Harbor Monday 07 August 2006 a Gift From France in 1885 the Statue's Interior Has Been Closed to Visitors Since the Terrorist Attacks of 11 September 2001 the National Park Service Announced Wednesday 09 August 2006 That the Statue's Crown Will Remain Closed to the Public Due to the Risks of Fire and Terrorism
Matt Campbell/Shutterstock

She may appear solemn, but Lady Liberty knows how to celebrate

In 1944, the lights in her crown flashed “dot-dot-dot-dash,” indicating a Morse code V, for Victory in Europe. If these Statue of Liberty facts have you feeling patriotic, wait till you read these facts you never knew about the American flag.

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Irish (in tall hats) and European immigrant families arriving in New York harbour and approaching Ellis Island where they would be processed. The Statue of Liberty is in the background. c1900.
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

She’s made a lot of friends

From 1892 to 1943, Lady Liberty greeted more than 12 million immigrants arriving by boat to Ellis Island.

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NEW YORK CITY, USA – JULY 15, 2013: A tourist at the foot of the Statue of Liberty on the observation deck while visiting the museum on a summer sunny day.
Oleg Anisimov/Shutterstock

She has her own “fort”

The Lady stands on a pedestal, and the pedestal stands on a disused granite fort in the shape of an 11-pointed star. Fort Wood, completed in 1811, once held 77 mounted guns and a garrison of 350 U.S. Army troops to protect New York harbor. (Today it holds a museum.)

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Robert Gohard, a member of the French team that is working on the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, puts finishing touches of gilding on the statue's new torch, 1985, in the same place where the original torch was constructed
Richard Drew/Shutterstock

Freedom isn’t free, and liberty ain’t cheap either

The cost of building the statue and pedestal amounted to more than $500,000—or more than $10 million in today’s money.

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The Statue of Liberty on its pedestal, in New York
Richard Drew/Shutterstock

France and the USA split the cost

Liberty’s French benefactors bankrolled the statue but left it to America to build and fund the pedestal. When early New York fundraisers failed, Boston and Philadelphia offered to pay the full cost…in return for relocating the statue. (They didn’t.)

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Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), French engineer.(1880). His most historic and best-known work is the Eiffel Tower built for the Paris Exposition of 1889 and remained the tallest building in the world until 1930. Photograph by Eugene Pirou. (Paris 1880).
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

Her “half-sister” is as famous as she is

Liberty’s inner framework was engineered by Gustave Eiffel in 1880. He used the same design to construct Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower seven years later. Now that you’ve got your Statute of Liberty facts down, check out some fascinating facts about that iconic French structure as well.