Tens of thousands of New Yorkers crowded into the southern tip of Manhattan 124 years ago tomorrow — Oct. 28, 1886. The cold rain did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, which stared expectantly across the water to a patch of land called Bedloe’s Island.
They were there to watch the unveiling of an unusual gift from the country of France — a massive statue that would become a worldwide symbol of liberty. On cue, an enormous veil dropped and for the first time the crowd could see the 151-foot tall, 225-ton work of art that would become known as the Statue of Liberty.
An eye-witness account would later recall "a thunderous cacophony of salutes from steam whistles, brass bands, and booming guns, together with clouds of smoke from the cannonade, [that] engulfed the statue for the next half hour." In his remarks, President Grover Cleveland contrasted the statues of other nations, with their "fierce and warlike gods," with "our own peaceful deity keeping watch before the open gates of America."
Lady Liberty remains a meaningful and inspiring symbol to this day — and, we hope, for many generations to come.
— Chip Wood