In 1874, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a famous French sculptor was approached by Edouard de Laboulaye, a political thinker, about designing a memorial statue that would commemorate the relationship between United States and France. de Laboulaye from Paris, France was once known as the ‘Father of the Statue of Liberty.’ de Laboulaye wanted strong connections between France and the United States and believed that France could learn from United States’ defeats and triumphs. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to celebrate the American Centennial.
During this time, Bartholdi’s hometown, Alsace lost independence. This inspired Bartholdi’s determination that liberty be part of designing what would become a leading iconic American figure. Bartholdi wasn't new to designing such memorial statues and he designed The Lion of Belford in Belford, France. He has also created Bartholdi’s Fountain in Washington, D.C and the Statue of Marquis de Lafayette in Union Square in Manhattan, New York.
Shortly after, Bartholdi joined nine other contractors in designing and building the statue. The men were also part of the same team who designed France’s famous ‘Eiffel Tower.’
Over 1 million francs were raised through donations that were funded through businesses wanting to play a role in funding the statue. On July 4, 1880 the statue was presented to the Minister of France in Paris, France.
Prior to the statue being built, Bartholdi made a visit to New York at Bedloe Island. The island is located in the Upper New York Bay. The island is operated by the National Park Service. The island is highly secure with 24/7 security provided by United States Park Police. It was agreed that the United States would fund the cost for the 65 ft. pedestal that the statue would stand on. $300,000 was raised and on October 1886, the Statue of Liberty was presented to the State of New York and to the world.
Bedloe Island was sold to Mr. Issac Bedlow in 1667. During his ownership, Bedloe had the City of New York use the island as a quarantine station for those who had smallpox. In 1732, the island was sold to merchants and the island was later used to house a summer residence.
Although construction on the statue started in 1884 it was not entirely complete and revealed to the world on October 28, 1886. Congress made it part of America in 1956.