Formally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” she was a gift from France, and was funded by the French people. Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi first had the idea for a monument to commemorate the friendship between the United States and France in 1865, but he didn’t begin actual construction until the early 1870s; he chose Bedloe’s Island – now called Liberty Island – because the statue could welcome the boats full of immigrants, who would pass by the statue on the way to Ellis Island. He was delighted to learn that the island was the property of the United States government, which meant all the states – not just New York – could claim equal ownership in the statue.
Lady Liberty is made of sheets of copper over a framework of steel supports; Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame, designed the framework. She was constructed in France and then was disassembled to make her journey to New York, where she was reassembled to her full height of 151 feet, 1 inch. Mounted on her pedestal, she stands 305 feet tall. Her torch was wired for electrical power in 1916. The seven rays of her crown represent the seven seas and the seven continents; the broken shackles at her feet evoke freedom from slavery and oppression; and the tablet in her left hand represents the law. Liberty’s face was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother.
taken from the Writer’s Almanac