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A gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, the statue originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue’s internal structure was engineered by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

From her pedestal atop Fort Wood on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, Lady Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to the shores of this country. Broken shackles at her feet symbolize freedom, and the torch in her hand represents enlightenment. On her tablet is inscribed the date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.


A plaque inside the base of the Statue of Liberty is inscribed with the following sonnet, "The New Colossus," written in 1883 by the Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887):

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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!"

Lazarus grew up in New York, in a family of Sephardic Jews. In the 1880s, through her poetry and essays, she increasingly protested rising antisemitism and advocated for immigrants’ rights. Written for an auction to raise money to build the statue’s pedestal, "The New Colossus" has itself become a symbol of American immigration and freedom. It was affixed to the statue in 1903, sixteen years after Lazarus’s death.