Welcome, Lady Liberty! On this day, 135 years ago, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor on board the French steamer Isere. But did you know that you do not necessarily have to travel to New York to see it? In fact, you do not even have to go to the United States at all. How is that possible? Well, I am glad you asked. The Statue of Liberty is reportedly one of the most copied statues in the world and you can find replicas in all sizes all around the globe. I visited one that can be found in the middle of a roundabout in Colmar, France, the birthplace of the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty.
The statue in Colmar was inaugurated in 2004 on the centennial of the death of the sculptor Bartholdi. It is 12 meters (about 39 feet) tall. Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar on August 2, 1834. He studied at the Lycee Louis Legrand in Paris. In 1855, he finished the work on his first monument, the statue of General Rapp, which was presented at the World Fair in Paris. He traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East from 1855 to 1856, and was especially fascinated by the monuments and sculptures he saw in Egypt. The Statue of Liberty was inspired by one of his projects to illuminate the entrance of the Suez Canal in Egypt that he called ”Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia,” which was later cancelled by the Egyptian government. For the construction of the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi was helped by Gustave Eiffel’s research office and by the engineer Maurice Koechlin. It was completely built in Paris and presented in friendship by France to the United States in 1884. In 1886, it was assembled and inaugurated in New York. He continued to create other statues, monuments, and portraits until his death in 1904, including a cast-iron fountain, which can be found near the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The city of Colmar has a museum dedicated to Bartholdi and erected a monument in his honor.