Statue of Liberty imageStatue of Liberty

M. Thomas


The people of France gave the Statue of Liberty to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as this international friendship. Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture.

The statue was a combined effort of both America and France. It was agreed that America would build the base, and France would build the statue and assemble it here in the United States. Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with a huge copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (see reference to Eiffel Tower) was hired to design the massive iron pylon and the skeletal framework. One of the tricks in the design of the statue was allowing for thermal expansion in the copper. When a material goes through temperature changes, the dimensions change. The skeletal framework allows the copper shell to move independently yet stand upright.

Another problem was what to make the inside skeletal framework. Bronze and stone were thrown out due to the fact that the statue must be shipped and these materials were too heavy. It was decided that steel would be used due to its light weight in comparison with bronze and stone. A technique called repousse, which is a technique for creating sculptural forms by hammering sheet metal inside molds was used to make the framework. Lighter than cast metal, repousse was the only method available that would allow for such a monumental work to be shipped overseas. The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet tall, and used 31 tons of copper and 125 tons of steel. Winds of 50 miles per hour cause the statue to sway 3 inches and the torch to sway 5 inches.