Tourists crowd inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
Tourists crowd inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
William Albert Allard, NatGeo Image Collection

Historic photos show how the Statue of Liberty was built

The iconic statue, once copper and now green, was constructed and displayed across France before becoming a beacon in New York Harbor.

The Statue of Liberty, a widely recognized symbol of the United States, was a gift from France to commemorate the countries' alliance during the Revolutionary War.

Crews in France constructed the 151-foot statue piece by piece over nine years of intense labor. As parts were completed, they were placed on display throughout Paris. Lady Liberty’s head graced the Jardins de Trocadéro across from the Eiffel Tower, as did the torch that for years welcomed ships carrying immigrants through New York Harbor.

In 1885, the statue was shipped off to her new home in New York (though, technically, Liberty Island is in New Jersey’s waters). The copper statue, officially unveiled on October 28, 1886, took four months to assemble and 20 years to transform from its original copper hue into its iconic green through a process called patination.

(Fast facts about the Statue of Liberty from National Geographic Kids.)

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