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July 1, 2015

Rare Vintage Photos of the Statue of Liberty Under Construction and Then Arrived in New York Harbor in 1885

On June 19, 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrives in New York Harbor after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The copper and iron statue, which was reassembled and dedicated the following year in a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland, became known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between the U.S. and France, the statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated, both in Europe and the U.S., where the statue’s pedestal was to be financed and constructed. The statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money).

Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor (between New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey) on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.

The Statue of Liberty seen on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, about a decade after her arrival, in 1898.

The hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty on display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, in Philadelphia, ten years before the rest of the statue was completed.

Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi's Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head-, ca. 1882.

Diagram of the dimensions of the Statue of Liberty, August 1883.

The head of the Statue of Liberty on display in the garden at the Champ de Mars at the World's Fair in Paris to drum up support and contributions for the completion of the great project, 1878.

View of portions of the Statue of Liberty during its construction in the workshop of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (seen at left) in Paris circa 1880.

Segments of the Statue of Liberty during its construction in the workshop of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, in Paris circa 1880.

The construction of the Statue of Liberty in Paris, before its journey to the United States, circa 1883.

The Statue of Liberty enclosed by scaffolding, while under construction, seen from the Rue de Chazelles, in Paris circa 1884.

The left hand of the Statue of Liberty under construction, circa 1884.

The framework for the right arm of the Statue Of Liberty during construction in Paris, circa 1885.

The feet of the Statue of Liberty arrive on Liberty Island in 1885.

Assemblage of the Statue of Liberty in Paris, showing the bottom half of the statue erect under scaffolding, the head and torch at its feet, 1883.

Workers at the monument's base, 1884. The United States was responsible for building and funding the pedestal, which stands at 154 feet, just a few feet taller than the statue.

Arrival in New York Harbor of the Statue of Liberty, 1885.

Arrival in New York Harbor of the Statue of Liberty, 1885.

The Statue of Liberty's face before it was installed, 1886.

Preparing the Statue of "liberty" on Bedloe's Island, for the formal unvailing [sic] on October 28th - Present condition of the work / from a sketch by a staff artist. 1886.

Completing the torch, Statue of Liberty, ca. 1886.

Liberty enlightening the world--Inauguration of the Bartholdi Statue, Harbor of New York--Military and naval salute, the President's arrival at Liberty Island, ca. 1886.

Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor, ca. 1891.

Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, from the North, ca. 1891.


  1. I believe Jack's wearing a pair of PF Flyers.

  2. I think it's amazing was around in 1966. :-)

  3. Even now a website in Hong Kong has a similar look. Not sure they are going for the retro look or just dont have the resources to modernize. Nonetheless, I came from the BBS period (bulletin board system)

  4. Comparing the image with recent photos, the complete absence of sea level rise is striking.




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