Statue of Liberty arrived in U.S. today in 1885

Posted at 9:59 AM, Jun 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-17 14:05:10-04

She’s a symbol for freedom and one of the most recognized figures in the United States. On this date in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City.

The statue was a gift from France to celebrate a century of American freedom from Great Britain, which would have been in 1876. So she was a little late — but the torch wielding arm was ready and displayed at celebrations in Philadelphia.

Lady Liberty was completed in 1884 and shipped in pieces to the U.S. by boat.

While the French built the copper statue, the United States was responsible for constructing the base. Delays in making the base meant that the Statue of Liberty had to sit in storage. The statue was dedicated Oct. 28, 1886 as “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

The site of Bedloe’s Island — now Liberty Island — was chosen because it was considered a gateway to America.

The copper statue was originally a shade of brown, similar to a penny. But oxidation caused it to form a green patina, which protects the underlying metal. She carries a torch in her right hand to symbolize the light of reason, and a book of laws in the other.

On the base, a poem welcomes immigrants to the United States: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

In 1986, the statue was extensively renovated. The statue and surrounding island were closed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and fully reopened by 2009.

Sources: WatchMojo, National Park Service

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.