This day (okay, technically yesterday) 130 years ago, a very important lady arrived in the United States: Lady Liberty. The United States’ most iconic monument was actually created in France. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and constructed by Gustave Eiffel, the statue was completed in 1885 after roughly 11 years of work. Once completed, the 150 foot statue was disassembled into smaller fragments and shipped to New York from Rouen, France.
Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent political thinker and supporter of democracy, conceptualized the project in 1865, with the end of the American Civil War. The passage of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States, proved to Laboulaye, himself President of the French Anti-Slavery Society, that freedom and democracy was possible for all. “Liberty Enlightening the World” would be a gift to the United States to symbolize the French-American alliance, independence and liberty, and to inspire a return of democracy to France.
Today, France has its own replicas of the Statue of Liberty in multiple cities. For the World’s Fair of 1900, designer of the original, Auguste Bartholdi created a smaller model of the statue, which now stands at the entrance of the Musée d’Orsay. A second replica, located on the Ile aux Cygnes in the River Seine, bears the dates of both the Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution. Still other replicas can be found in Bordeaux, Barentin, Colmar (the town of Bartholdi’s birth) and others. Germany, Spain, Norway, Austria, and Ireland are just a few other countries where models of the Statue of Liberty can also be found.