Liberty Enlightening the World

A few weeks ago, a patron asked where the oxen previously seen around the Hopewell Valley area were manufactured. The reference librarian searched and found that they were made by a company in Philadelphia which makes various other fiberglass animals and sculptures for their customers. On their site was a thirty-foot tall Statue of Liberty that you could buy for your personal use. Seeing the fiberglass sculpture made me think about the real Statue of Liberty, my last trip there, and what may have changed in the meantime.
Liberty Enlightening the World

It has been many years since I visited the Statue. The first time was in elementary school. I was so scared going up the spiral stairs to the top that I had to turn around! The second time, it was a personal challenge to go all the way up. I made it and I am glad I did. It was fascinating to see the inside of the sculpture and enjoy the view from the crown. A lot has changed from then – but not the stairs!

The National Park Service’s website has a timeline of the history of the island and Statue. Their website is also the best place to get information on how to visit the Statue. Reservations must be made to take the steps up to the crown or go inside the pedestal and are recommended for any type of visit. Major renovations to the stairs inside the pedestal section have taken place to improve visitor evacuation. Only ten visitors at a time may begin the climb to the crown. As is the case now at many attractions, visitors must go through a security screening. When you go, expect a screening prior to boarding the ferry and before entering the pedestal.

For an in-depth discussion of the sculptor, Frederic August Bartholdi, and story of how the Statue came to be, read the new book Liberty’s Torch by Elizabeth Mitchell

“This biography of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, challenges prior accounts of how the colossus was realized. Yasmin Khan's Enlightening the World (2010) holds that the project originated with a group of liberal Frenchmen fond of American democracy. Not according to Mitchell. The idea was Bartholdi's alone, and he was motivated not by feelings of amity toward America but by the driver of many an artist, ambition. Directed toward sculpture by his devoted mother, Bertholdi early would learn that large works won attention. He made his initial mark with a military statue. Inspired by a tour of Egyptian monuments, he dreamed of creating the biggest statue in the world. His proposal to do so at the Suez Canal failed, but after an interlude of fighting alongside Garibaldi in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War, he fixated on erecting it in an American seaport. How New York became the location is just one of the elements of Mitchell's lively story. The statue's financing, construction, transportation, and unveiling complete her often archly characterized portrait of the creatively self-promoting Bartholdi.” – Booklist

If a longer book is more than you are looking for, try checking out a book from the juvenile nonfiction section. It is often easier to look at a children’s book to get a succinct, easy-to-read version of the facts or overview of a topic. All branches of the Library System own books about the Statue of Liberty – ask at the reference or youth services desk of your local branch or take a look under J 974.7 in the juvenile nonfiction area.

Andrea at the Hopewell Branch


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