Timeline: Liberty’s Story

1865 – Edouard Laboulaye, Bartholdi, and other French intellectuals talk about giving the United States a gift to celebrate its commitment to freedom.

1869– Bartholdi proposed “Egypt Bringing the Light to Asia,” a monumental female statue for the opening of the Suez Canal

1870 – The Franco-Prussian War begins and Bartholdi goes to the United States to garner support for his redesigned “Liberty Enlightening the World” project.

1872– Bartholdi returns to France having found support for the project and identified an ideal site in New York’s Bedloe’s Island.

1875– Laboulaye  officially requests Bedloe’s Island as the statue’s official site. The Franco-American Union is formed to raise funds for the project.

1876– Bartholdi finishes the statue’s hand holding the torch and sends it to be displayed at Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia on May 18th.

1877– The torch bearing arm moves to New York’s Madison Square Park, where it remains on display until 1882.

  • February 22nd – Congress formally accepts France’s Gift
  • March 3rd -President Grant Commissions Bedloe’s Island as the future site of the statue.

1878– Bartholdi completes the statue’s head and shoulders for display at the Paris Universal Exposition.

1880– Gustav Eiffel designs the flexible iron framework that will support the statue

1883– The statue is being constructed in Parc Monceau in Paris and work begins on the pedestal’s foundation. Funds run out within the year and work on the pedestal stops.

  • July 4th – The completed statue is formally unveiled to Levi P. Morton, the U.S. minister to France.

1885– Joseph Pulitzer’s fundraising campaign begins and The statue is disassembled and shipped to New York

  • June 17th- The crated statue arrives at Bedloe’s Island

1886– The statue’s pedestal is completed. Work on assembly begins.

  • October 23rd – The Statue of Liberty is completed.
  • October 28th -The statue is formally unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony on Bedloe’s Island.

1903– an excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” are inscribed on a plaque and added to the base of the statue.