An illustration of the statue that ran in The Washington Post on Oct. 29, 1886. (The Washington Post)

In typical newspaper writing style of the time, the report reads in an understated way: “the scene.. beggars all description, one that is unprecedented in all past history, and we may almost conclude that it is one which will never be counterparted in future history.”

“Liberty, the center of the attraction, stood with her face covered by the French tri-color ready to reveal her placid countenance to the world when the proper time should come.”

The band played “Yankee Doodle” and the “Star Spangled Banner,” and President Grover Cleveland gave a speech. The reporter noted Cleveland was the only one that day to speak without notes and he accepted the gift from France in “a voice so clear and his articulation so good that all his words were heard two hundred feet away.”

The only thing missing: a poet to memoralize the day. The writer moans, “Ah, Gotham, what were you thinking of when you forgot to put a live cosmopolitan literary man on your committee, who could see a few inches further than his face into the Pantheon of history?”

And at last, he describes the lady herself: “The mammoth figure stands, at last, upon its massive pedestal, symbolizing the incarnation of all that the nation has lived, and suffered, and fought for, in the awful sacrifices it has laid, in a single century, upon the altar of American freedom. Towering above the blue waters, it rises a veritable goddess, a gigantic fate, standing in eloquent silence like a guardian spirit before the gates of the city.”


Diagram of the dimensions of the Statue of Liberty. (Library of Congress)

Original architectural drawing sent from the office of engineer Eiffel to the office of R. M. Hunt, designer of the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, showing the iron framework that Eiffel designed for the statue. (Library of Congress)

| GALLERY: Click the image to view photos of the Statue of Liberty.