Today celebrates 135 years since its French designer, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, obtained US patent #11,023 for the building of ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’, otherwise known as the Statue of Liberty. From the granting of the patent, it would take seven years for the statue to be completed.
To mark this occasion, here are five facts about Lady Liberty:
1) She represents the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas, but her face was modelled on Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte.
2) The idea for the statue first came from the French anti-slavery activist Edouard de Laboulaye, who proposed the monument as a gift from France. He intended it to symbolise America’s move towards freedom by abolishing slavery. Although it is hard to see as her robes obscure her feet, she is standing on a broken shackle and chains.
3) Between 1886 and 1902, she was a functional lighthouse. The beams from her torch – which stands at 93m tall – could be seen from 24 miles away.
4) Lady Liberty became a casualty of World War I on 30 July 1916 when a munitions supply on the nearby Black Tom Island was sabotaged. Black Tom was storing two million tons of explosives when German agents set it alight, sending shrapnel flying over the area. Debris embedded itself into the statu’es torch bearing arm, causing $100,000 in damage. The stairs to the top of the torch were closed to the public, and have not been opened again since.
5) On D-Day, 6 June 1944 – as troops began their invasion of Europe – the lights of the crown flashed the letter ‘V’ in Morse code. It stood for ‘Victory in Europe’.