On the 17th June 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbour on board the French steam ship Isère. It arrived disassembled, and remained in its 210 separate crates for 10 months while construction of the enormous pedestal it was to stand on was completed.
The statue was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, who claimed that he was influenced by a conversation with the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society to construct a statue commemorating the Union’s victory in the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The proposal was that France would pay for the statue itself, and America would pay for the pedestal. The project was announced in September 1875, when the name of the statue was revealed – Liberty Enlightening the World.
The internal structure that supports the statue was designed by French structural engineer Gustave Eiffel, who is arguably better known for the iconic Eiffel Tower that he built in Paris a few years later. Eiffel created a wrought-iron skeleton, onto which the 350 separate copper plates that make up the skin were attached. The construction enables the statue to move slightly in the harbour’s strong winds, reducing the risk of cracking or other damage.
The completed statue was finally dedicated on the 28th October, 1886. As the celebratory parade, led by President Grover Cleveland, made its way past the New York Stock Exchange the traders inside spontaneously threw ticker tape onto the streets below in celebration. This was the first occurrence of a ‘ticker tape parade’ in New York City.