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I Meet a Big Green French Woman
There’s something about cities with a harbour – we are always drawn to the water. New York’s harbour has a couple of things worth visiting – first and foremost of course is that statue.
You approach via ferry. The ferry takes a swing around the island and docks on the far side – almost as if specifically designed to give us all a great photo op.
It’s hard to understand how big she is without seeing her up close.
I mean really big.
REALLY REALLY BIG!!
The stats say it’s more than 46 meters (151 ft) from the base to the tip of the torch. The pedestal alone is the height of a ten story building. But that doesn’t really give any idea of just how colossal she is.
Even seeing people peeking through the windows in her crown doesn’t do it.
For me – it was her hand… the one clutching the tablet. Specifically the fingers.
They are just huge! (It’s said Liberty’s somewhat robust arms were based on those of the artist’s mother. Obviously a very… competent woman.)
Her index finger is longer than I am tall. That’s about when it all starts to drop into perspective.
The tablet, by the way, is engraved with a date in July – the day and year are in Roman numerals.
I overheard a woman and her children trying to figure out what the date was. The woman was American. What date in early July could possibly be of such significance to the USA that it would be inscribed on Liberty’s tablet? When we walked away, she was still trying to figure it out.
Despite that, the other thing I find fascinating is the way Liberty has been adopted by the Americans. She is after all, French.
The whole project was conceived in France – by a group of Frenchman. The statue was designed by a Frenchman, paid for by the French, built in France and shipped in pieces to the US. The US participation was to approve the location and provide a pedestal – and there was so little enthusiasm for the whole the project that at times it appeared likely it just wasn’t going to happen.
She’s now one of the great US icons – if not THE great US icon.
I was pretty excited to meet her. She has a certain special resonance for anyone who comes to the US from afar… standing as she does so close to Ellis Island – the staging place for millions of migrants.
That was my next point of call too… more about that next time.Share this page...
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