If you plan to visit the Statue of Liberty this 4th of July weekend, make sure you know everything about it.
We all learn the official story of our country in school, but that doesn’t really mean that this is the right one or even the complete story. Even with the most famous and talked-about events, there will always be new discoveries, new versions, and even new interpretations to the existing facts mainly because history isn’t a static science. This is something that always stays with me, mainly when it’s related to really important key events and episodes of our history. In the same way, evidence, documents, and monuments can be just as mysterious as the story they represent or narrate. So, no matter how popular, studied, or visited they are, here are some facts you didn’t know about the two most patriotic landmarks in the US.
Statue of Liberty
For so many years, the Statue of Liberty represented the door to a land of opportunity and hope, since it was the first thing millions of migrants saw upon arriving in the US. Apart from that, since its arrival, it became an automatic symbol of the nation’s main values and thus, one of the most patriotic landmarks in the country and the world.
The statue’s creator, Frederic Bartholdi, was what we would call a man of the world and wanted to create something unique to be remembered by everyone around the globe. According to some versions, he actually planned for the statue to be placed in Egypt at the Suez Canal. It would be linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea. In his plans, the statue would have a massive lantern that would “light the way to Asia.” In this version, he presented the idea to Egypt’s leader in 1867 at the Paris World Fair, claiming that it would be as imposing as the Sphinx or the pyramids. However, Egypt refused the project since it would cost them too much money. Now, in other versions, this was a different statue that Bartholdi had in mind.
The Statue was originally going to be a lighthouse
As you can imagine, the building of such a colossal sculpture represented a lot of money and funding efforts to make it happen. In that way, when the project was authorized by President Grant, he determined that the Statue had to be a lighthouse. Why? Well, according to the story, if the government was to fund its construction, it had to have a practical purpose. Unfortunately, engineers never found a way to actually make it work as a lighthouse, and besides that, they realized that the Island was too far from land to actually work as a proper lighthouse, so it remained what it is today.
They wanted it to be covered in gold and able to talk
While it was still under construction, the government wanted the artists and engineers working on the project to design something that could make it visible in the dark to avoid any accidents. Bartholdi, who had great plans for the statue, suggested that it should be covered in gold, so it would shine with the light of the moon. Of course, that idea was automatically rejected since they were already having a lot of funding issues to even bring it to New York. But this wasn’t the only over-the-top idea. In 1878, while it was still under construction, Thomas Edison declared he was working on a “monster disc” that would be placed in the interior so that the statue could literally deliver speeches. This idea was also turned down.
Designed to become a "Shrine of Democracy,” the project started in 1927 (to commemorate 150 years of the history of the US) with sculptor Gutzon Borglum and concluded in 1941 some months after his death. He wanted to create something as colossal and majestic as the characters that shaped the country, so he came up with the idea of building the faces of those he considered the fathers of American democracy: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Originally, Borglum didn't know whether to include Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson for leading the country during WWI, but he ended up choosing Roosevelt.
It was going to include a short history of the United States
When Borglum was designing the project, he was planning on including a short history of the United States to accompany and encompass what the huge faces would represent. This was called the Entablature, and it would contain nine key episodes starting from 1776, year of the Independence, to 1906, and would include a carving of the Louisiana Purchase. President Coolidge started writing the first entry, but Borglum hated it so much that he rewrote everything, which made the president really angry. Some time later, the idea was discarded because it wasn’t going to be visible from far away anyway.
The faces had larger noses originally
According to records of the project, Borglum wanted his work to last for thousands of years, so that people could admire it as he created it and not just as historic ruins. For that reason, since granite (the material used to create it) tends to erode over time, he decided to add some feet to the size of the noses, which is what gets damaged first. It was a smart move, but if you pay attention closely, George Washington’s nose is disproportionately bigger than his companions'.
Every monument, every object or artifact in a museum, every book and document, every town, and every person is a key element in the wide and long history of the world, so there are endless possibilities to read and interpret history. So, now that we’re about to celebrate another year of the Independence of the US, it’s a great moment to learn or a bit of history about these landmarks.
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