Read this Brief Statue of Liberty History Before Taking Your Liberty Cruise

Before you head out on your liberty cruise, take a few minutes to get to know some of the history of the iconic Statue of Liberty. With the key details in your mind, you will better appreciate the grandeur and symbolism of Lady Liberty as you glide by on the water, snapping the perfect photograph.

Planning the Statue

You have likely heard that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States, showing the friendship between the two countries. The idea began in 1865 when Edouard de Laboulaye proposed creating a monument. Ten years later, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor, received his commission with the goal of completing the structure in 1876. Right away, the French knew they wanted to give the present to help commemorate a hundred years since American Independence.

Joint Effort

Although the statue was a gift from France, the overall project, known as “Liberty Enlightening the World” was actually a combined effort. While France created the actual statue you see on a Statue of Liberty cruise, the U.S. made the pedestal. Both sides required fundraising efforts to achieve their goal. Eventually, the famous Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (who designed the Eiffel Tower) got the commission to design the skeletal framework.

Completing the Statue and Pedestal

American architect Richard Morris Hunt created the granite pedestal you’ll spot during a liberty cruise. He even donated his fee to fund the statue. The pedestal’s construction ended in April 1886, while the statue was finished in July 1884. The statue journeyed from France on the French “Isere” in 350 pieces in 214 crates. It took four months to reassemble. The statue was finally dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Grover Cleveland.

History Since Its Dedication

During your statue cruise, you will also get to see Liberty Island in addition to the Statue of Liberty. The island has its own rich history. The phrase “The New Colossus” was added to a plaque on the pedestal in 1903 and impressed immigrants as they came into the country. In 1901, operations for Lady Liberty switched from the control of the United States Lighthouse Board to the War Department. It became a National Monument on October 15, 1924, with its boundary including Fort Wood, which sat inside. The National Park Service took over care and administration in 1933. The island became Liberty Island in 1956, and President Ronald Reagan led restoration efforts in 1982.


With its past in mind, you should better understand where this icon came from, letting you make the most of your Statue of Liberty experience.