Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve
I'm Barbara Klein. Later this week, Americans will celebrate the nation's
Independence Day. On July fourth,
seventeen seventy-six, colonial leaders approved the final Declaration of
Independence for the United States.
This year, the city of New York will also
celebrate the opening of part of an important symbol of America that has been
closed to the public for the past eight years.
The Statue of Liberty has stood in New York Harbor for
more than one hundred years. It was a
gift from the people of France in eighteen eighty-four. Its full name is "Liberty Enlightening the
The Statue of Liberty is forty-six meters tall from its
base. It is made mostly of copper. Throughout history, images of liberty have
been represented as a woman. The statue
is sometimes called "Lady Liberty."
Statue of Liberty's face was created to look like the sculptor's mother. Her
right arm holds a torch with a flame high in the air. Her left arm holds a tablet with the date of
the Declaration of Independence -- July fourth, seventeen seventy-six. On her
head she wears a crown of seven points. Each is meant to represent the light of freedom as it shines on the seven
seas and seven continents of the world. Twenty-five windows in the crown represent
gemstones found on Earth. A chain that
represents oppression lies broken at her feet.
nineteen oh three, a bronze plaque was placed on the inner wall of the statue's
support structure or pedestal. On it are
words from the poem "The New Colossus" written by Emma Lazarus in eighteen
eighty-three. The plaque represents the statue's message of hope for people
seeking freedom. These are some of its
best known words:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The United States and France have
been friends and allies since the time of the American Revolution. France helped the American colonial armies
defeat the British. The war officially
ended in seventeen eighty-three. A few
years later, the French rebelled against their king.
A French historian and political
leader, Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, had the idea for the statue. In eighteen sixty-five, he suggested that the
French and the Americans build a monument together to celebrate freedom. Artist
Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi immediately
agreed to design it.
eighteen seventy-five, the French established an organization to raise money
for Bartholdi's creation. Two years
later, an American group was formed to raise money to pay for a pedestal to
support the statue. American architect
Richard Morris Hunt was chosen to design this support structure. It would stand forty-seven meters high.
In France, Bartholdi designed a very small statue. Then he built a series of larger copies. Workers created a wooden form covered with
plaster for each part. Then they placed
three hundred pieces of copper on the forms. This copper skin was less than three centimeters thick.
statue also needed a structure that could hold its weight of more than two
hundred tons. French engineer Alexandre
Gustave Eiffel created this new technology. Later, he would build the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.
and others worked in Paris to produce a strong iron support system for the
statue. The design also needed to permit
the statue to move a little in strong winds.
had wanted to give the statue to the United States on the one hundredth
anniversary of the Declaration of Independence -- July fourth, eighteen
seventy-six. But technical problems and
lack of money delayed the project. France finally presented the statue to the
United States in Paris in eighteen eighty-four. But the pedestal, being built in New York, was not finished. Not enough money had been given to complete the
publisher of the New York World newspaper came to the rescue. Joseph Pulitzer
used his newspaper to urge Americans to give more money to finish the
pedestal. His efforts brought in another
one hundred thousand dollars. And the
pedestal was finished.
France, workers separated the statue into three hundred fifty pieces, put them
on a ship and sent them across the ocean. The statue arrived in New York in
more than two hundred wooden boxes. It
took workers four months to put together the statue on the new
pedestal. President Grover Cleveland officially accepted the statue in a
ceremony on October twenty-eighth, eighteen eighty-six. He said: "We will not forget that Liberty has
here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected."
The Statue of Liberty became a symbol of hope for
immigrants coming to the United States by ship from Europe. More than twelve
million people passed the statue between eighteen ninety-two and nineteen fifty-four
on their way to the immigration center on nearby Ellis Island.
than forty percent of Americans have an ancestor who passed through Ellis
Island. Through the years, millions of
people continued to visit the Statue of Liberty. A trip to New York City did not seem complete
the statue was old and becoming dangerous for visitors. In nineteen eighty-two, President Ronald
Reagan asked businessman Lee Iacocca to lead a campaign to repair it. The
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised about one hundred million
dollars in private money to do the work. The repairs included replacing the torch and covering it with
twenty-four carat gold. On July fourth,
nineteen eighty-six, New York City celebrated a restored and re-opened Statue
Officials closed the Statue of Liberty
following the terrorist attacks in New York on September eleventh, two thousand
one. It remained closed until August,
two thousand four. When it re-opened, visitors could only go onto the statue's
pedestal. But the Statue continued to attract visitors—more than three million
This year, on July
fourth, visitors once again will be able to climb inside the statue all the way
to the top. It is not an easy thing to
do. More than three hundred fifty steps
lead to Lady Liberty's crown. The
National Park Service says it will limit the number of climbers to about two
hundred a day. No more than ten people will be able to go up at one time. At that rate, officials estimate that more
than one hundred thousand people will be able to climb to the top each year.
if you want to visit the newly opened Statue of Liberty, you must do it within
the next two years. That is because the
National Park Service plans to close it again for more repairs. Officials say the improvements could take as
long as two years. But they say the work will make it possible to safely double
the number of visitors permitted inside.
Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island is one of America's national
parks. It includes both Liberty Island,
where the statue stands, and nearby Ellis Island, the former federal immigration
at the center examined many of the immigrants who arrived by ship before they
were permitted to enter the United States. The main building was restored and
opened as a museum in nineteen ninety. The museum includes pictures, videos,
interactive displays and recordings of immigrants who went through Ellis Island
until it was closed in nineteen fifty-four.
exhibit is the Immigrant Wall of Honor outside the main building. It honors all
immigrants to the United States no matter where they entered the country. It now lists the names of more than seven
hundred thousand people. A new area of wall is being prepared for more names to
immigration history center on the island contains the ship records of
passengers who entered through New York from eighteen ninety-two through
nineteen twenty-four. Those were the years of the great wave of European
immigration, before the United States passed restrictive immigration laws.
One recent visitor said the Ellis Island immigration
hall feels alive with the stories of people who left their native lands long
ago to start a new life in a new country.
This program was written
by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara Klein.
And I'm Steve Ember. You can find transcripts, MP3s and
podcasts of our programs at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for
THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.