Everyone knows her. The copper Statue of Liberty designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. Given to the new United States by France as an “in your face” to the British who had just lost a profitable colony.

Lady Liberty
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, New York 1992

What most people don’t know is that the granite stone pedestal it now proudly stands on had to be built by New York and nearly didn’t happen. The pedestal was erected on an old 11 star fort on Ellis Island. But construction stopped soon when New York ran out of money. In the meantime, Lady Liberty still lay in pieces over in France, waiting to be shipped out.

Liberty Pedestal

As politicians failed to come up with the large sums of money needed, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer came up with an ingenious new form of a fundraising drive we today know as crowdfunding. He promised people to “print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount given” in his New York World newspaper.

Many children gave as little as 5 cents they would have otherwise spent on toys or trips to the circus. Even the poorest of the poor chipped in and gave whatever (little) they could and eventually work on the pedestal resumed. (- Wikipedia)

Lady Liberty

Personally, I mostly remember the long slow way up to the crown climbing the tight spiral stairs up on the smaller inner side, while people would at the same time use the bigger outer half to climb down again. You nowadays can only visit the crown if you reserve in advance, which I luckily didn’t have to do to back then.


One of my friends from school studied Art History. A technique that amazed her the most was “Faltenwurf”, the realistic depiction of fabric and clothes by means of folds and drapery. I know from my own experience that folds are a pain to draw, but once you wrap your head around it – literally – it is easy.

The Statue of Liberty has some amazing folds on display. Despite all the bad weather she must have seen in almost 130 years her clothing is in immaculate shape.

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