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When the Statue of Liberty left her arm in Madison Square

Above: The arm of the Statue of Liberty stood solitary in Madison Square for six years, from 1876 to 1882.

Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, one of the forgotten names in Statue of Liberty history was born in Paris.  As the godfather of historical restoration, Viollet-le-Duc would rescue countless medieval structures from decay, helping to preserve the spirit of French architecture through such buildings as Notre-Dame and Mont Sant-Michel.

But it’s through his association with his student Frédéric Bartholdi that Viollet-le-Duc would make his mark in America, as the original designer of the Statue of Liberty‘s brick-laden skeleton.  

Viollet-le-Duc would work with Bartholdi in creating both the head and the arm, parts that would then travel to the United States to raise funds for the completed structure.

In particular, the arm and torch would be displayed in the northwest corner of Madison Square Park, from 1876 to 1882.  On July 4th, 1876, a gigantic painting by Jean-Baptiste Lavastre of the completed statue was displayed on a building across the street from the arm.

Below: The arm would also make its way to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Sadly, Viollet-le-Duc would never again see these portions of the statue, as he died in 1879 before the entire structure was completely built.   Bartholdi then turned to another architect to complete the work — Gustave Eiffel.  It’s Eiffel’s redesigned interior that supports the statue today.

In 1889, three years after the Statue of Liberty finally made its home in New York harbor, Eiffel debuted his better known work — the Eiffel Tower — at the Paris World’s Fair.

But the somewhat radical theories of restoration espoused by Viollet-le-Duc would inspire American architects and inform the direction of modern historical preservation.

11 replies on “When the Statue of Liberty left her arm in Madison Square”

Many books, movies, etc use the Statue of Liberty as a subject including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Sabatuer,” “Remo Williams : The adventure begins”, more recently”Cloverfield”, and “Sharknado.”

It’s a symbol of America, and a great target for emotion when it comes to seeing it destroyed or used in “National Treasure” as a clue to find the treasure.

It was originally presented as a gift from the people of France to the people of America to celebrate the 100th anniversary of American independence (which the French helped the US achieve by funding the American Revolution in our war with England)

The Statue of Liberty is made up of over 310 pieces of copper with a wrought iron armature 151 fee tall – made by Gustav Eiffel (replaced in the 1984-1986 restoration project) The pieces were shipped from France to America in 1885 on a French ship called the Isere which was a decommissioned warship which was able to hold the 314 crates of metal including the armature,

The arm which was sent to America to promote the funding of the project in France and America was displayed in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exposition (America’s 1st World’s fair) in 1876 barely making it toward the end of the exhibit in August/September 1876.

It was placed in Madison Square Park to raise money for the pedestal which was being built on Bedloe’s Island using Fort Wood (The War of 1812 fort) that was already on the island as a base for the foundation needed.

Since the Arm and Torch were in the US anyway it was decided to continue the fund raising efforts in nyc where they would have more people visiting it and more visitors would pass by. Since it was just a 40 foot or so climb to the balcony the operator was able to raise some money when visitors paid a fee to climb it. The arm was there after the Closing of the centennial exposition (world’s fair) and shipped back to France in 1882 where it would be attached to the Statue of Liberty when it was completed in 1884.

The statue would be officially given to the United States in 1884 during a ceremony in Paris on July 4th, 1884. It would then be taken apart and shipped to America to be erected on its pedestal in 1885/86.

Funding efforts for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty were not doing well and a series of miniature figures were sold to raise roughly $50,000 and finally Joseph Pulitzer and his newspaper “The NEW YORK WORLD “ was able to raise the final $100,000 in the summer of 1886. On October 28, 1886 the Statue of Liberty was opened.

Before I read this blog spot, I only knew a brief history about the Statue of Liberty. I knew that it was given by the French during the American Revolution as a gift to honor their friendship. However, I didn’t know the specific details like the creator of the Statue of Liberty. After reading this post, I learned that Viollet-le-Duc and his student, Frédéric Barthold, created the head and arm and torch of the statue that was located in Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1888. There was also a painting of the complete statue across the arm. The sources used in this blog post are pictures and facts that seem to be primary and gathered facts. I still want to know why the statue was moved to Liberty Island instead of staying at Madison Square Park.

It has to be in water because it’s the Statue of Liberty and liberty is granted, freedom is won. And don’t u think it would be a little big for Madison Park. The original statue was to commemorate the black soldiers who many thought won the civil War for the north to commemorate their victory over slavery, that’s why their is a chain on her feet. It was inspired by the goddess Isis. The original was rejected by the United States, because they thought the south would be offended by the reminder of their defeat. Barthold changed the face to resemble his mother and the chain that was on the arm in the original was removed.

It has nothing to do with water except that it’s on an island. Bedloe’s island was chosen by August Bartholdi in the 1870s when he was told by Eduard Renne de Laboulaye to visit America and seek a place to put up his colossal artwork.

Laboulaye was a writer and held strong belief in why Americans fought the civil. In several discussions and articles about American independence and Liberty he determines that the civil war in America should not have been fought because slavery was a bad idea for any reason.

Bartholdi toured NYC, Niagara Falls, Washington DC., California and other states around the country and decided that Bedloe’s island and Fort Wood would be a perfect place for his Artwork. Several concepts were developed but based on an earlier project plan for the Suez Canal which was rejected. Yes, at one point an image showing a person holding a chain was drawn but the idea was meant to represent the free people not free slaves. With the civil war recently over and feelings running high a representation of the Roman goddess of Liberty was chosen.

The interpretation of the Statue of Liberty is a personal one and represents different aspects of freedom to the many visitors that come from around the world.. the chain remains at the feet of the statue broken with the movement of lady Liberty as she strides forward into a free world. And Bartholdi has noted that he used his mother as the model for the face but never stated that the figure was of any race, creed, or color and that she represents the goddess Libertas – The Roman godd. ess of Liberty in a neoclassical design

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