The statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol synonymous to the USA, but I’m not in New York. This ‘Lady Liberty’ stands on a small man made island on the Seine River in Paris not far from the Eiffel Tower.
Created by the same sculpture as the statue in America, this Statue of Liberty is smaller but otherwise exactly the same with one key addition. On the tablet ‘Lady Liberty’ is holding, along with the date of the United States Declaration of Independence, there is another date; July 14 1789, which represents the beginning of the French Revolution.
It’s said that when the statue was placed on the Allée des Cygnes (Swan Island) in Paris she initially faced the Eiffel Tower. However, at the request of her sculptor, Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, she was repositioned to face in the direction of the USA.
Of course, you might know that the Statue of Liberty in New York was a gift to the USA from the people of France, but while most people assume — as I did — that the French government gifted the statue to the United States government, this was not the case. In fact it was paid for by donations from people in Paris and around France, as well as various fund raising schemes that included charging visitors admission to watch the statue’s construction, selling souvenirs, and even a national lottery. Funds were also raised in the United States by the New York World newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, who received contributions from more than 120,000 people.
Maybe there’s a certain sense of irony that in todays political landscape, while Lady Liberty is seen as a iconic symbol of American Freedom and Liberty, she’s also the worlds largest statue of an immigrant. After all, she was a daughter of France who in the spring of 1885 made the twenty six day journey to the United States by boat just as thousands of other immigrants would have done. So as she stands there today, now famous around the world, her younger and less well known sister still stands in Paris looking out to the horizon perhaps waiting for her come home.
Stand here using Google street view
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