“Liberty Enlightening the World” was unveiled to the public one hundred and twenty-eight years ago today. The statue was designed by the French artist and sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, with engineering help from Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. It was constructed in France, then dismantled and packed into more than two hundred shipping crates, then shipped across the ocean to New York, where it was reassembled on a pedestal on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. On October 28, 1886, despite cold, rainy weather, hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the statue’s dedication.
Lady Liberty’s face was veiled with a French flag while the assembled crowd was subjected to a number of speeches by various dignitaries. Bartholdi himself was hidden inside the statue’s crown, ready to drop the flag and unveil the statue as soon as the speeches were over; but he let the flag fall prematurely, prompting enthusiastic cheers from the crowd and bringing a sudden close to the speech then in progress.