Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty!
Statue of Liberty turns 125 years old
The Statue of Liberty turned 125 on Friday, with the National Park Service attempting to recreate some of the festivities of Oct. 28, 1886, when one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks was dedicated at a ceremony attended by President Grover Cleveland.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution, was supposed to be an Egyptian peasant girl that would have stood at the entrance of Egypt's then-new Suez Canal, CNN quotes historians as saying. However, "plans would later evolve into the Roman goddess that would instead adorn New York harbor."
The Washington Post reports that: the U.S. Coast Guard will sponsor a flotilla of vessels; the New York Fire Department will deploy its fireboats to provide a water spout display; the Park Service will host a morning concert; and a fireworks display at 7:45 p.m. will cap the day's celebrations.
Later, in a nod to the 21st century, officials plan to unveil a new “torch webcam” providing viewers with views of New York Harbor and the statue from within Lady Liberty’s torch.
On Saturday, officials plan to close the statue for up to a year in order to complete a $27.25 million renovation of Liberty's interior, announced in 2009. According to the Park Service, 85 percent of visitors never actually venture into the statue anyway, the Post reports.
The 151-foot statue, originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World, depicting Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty, was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi.
CNN quotes Edward Berenson, professor of history and director of the Institute of French Studies at New York University as saying Bartholdi was "inspired by Egypt's colossal statues during his own travels to Cairo."
"The sculptor, Bartholdi, was very clever... He put [the statue] where he did because its right at the narrows of New York harbor, so he knew that every boat that came into New York would have to come really close to it. People felt like they could reach out and touch it."
The Statue of Liberty welcomed 12 million immigrants to the United States over the next three decades.
A sonnet by Emma Lazarus, an American poet, inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
On the morning of dedication, Politico writes:
More than a million New Yorkers watched a parade headed by Cleveland, a former New York governor. The parade wound its way to Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, by way of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It detoured so that the parade could march down Park Row, which housed Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which had helped raise substantial funds for the project — donated by its readers, mostly in small amounts. As the parade passed the New York Stock Exchange, traders threw ticker tape from the windows, inaugurating a tradition that continues to this day.
The statue was designated a national monument in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.