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Statue of Liberty celebrates 130 years on American shores

She's welcomed generations of immigrants to America's shores and been the beacon of a new world to them. She's also been one of the landmarks of the nation and unmistakable marker for those who travel into New York Harbor.

But the Statue of Liberty herself was not born in America, but rather came to the country in pieces and arrived here 130 years ago Wednesday.

The Statue of Liberty is encased in a shroud of scaffolding while undergoing renovations in New York June 21, 1984. David Pickoff/AP

Designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who called her Liberty Enlightening the World, she was intended to be a gift to the United States on the centennial of the American Revolution and as a measure of goodwill between America and the French.

Looking back at Lady Liberty's history

"I will try to glorify the Republic and Liberty over there, in the hope that someday I will find it again here," said Bartholdi, to his associate Edouard de Laboulaye, who initially inspired the idea of the statue at a time of dissent against the regime of Napoleon III.

Originally assembled in France, the Statue took two years to be completed. In 1885, the statue is taken apart and 350 pieces of her are shipped to America in 200 crates, finally arriving in New York on June 17 to be carefully reassembled.

Construction of the pedestal had already begun two years earlier on Bedloe Island (later renamed Liberty Island), which was chosen because it was located in the middle of the highly trafficked harbor and was done by Americans.

Workers wasted no time putting together the copper and iron statue, completing it and attaching her to the pedestal. The statue was dedicated October 28, 1886. "We will not forget that liberty here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected," said President Grover Cleveland on the day Lady Liberty was dedicated.

Bartholdi died in 1904. The Statue of Liberty was declared a national monument in 1924.

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