Statue Of Liberty's Original Color. How Did It Turn Green? | Kidadl


Statue Of Liberty's Original Color. How Did It Turn Green?

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Have you ever seen a picture of the Statue of Liberty or seen a picture and wondered why the mighty statue has a green-blue hue to it? The Statue of Liberty was given to the people of the United States by the people of France on October 28, 1886.

The Statue of Liberty was designed by famous French architect Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The statue stands at a height of 306.9 ft (93 m) as a symbol of freedom and liberty on Liberty island. It stands at the shore of New York city of the United States of America, facing the sea, welcoming immigrants to America. The process of construction took nine long years, and it was then assembled on an island in New York.

The lady in the statue is actually a Roman Goddess, Libertas, who stands on a high pedestal on the island. She holds her right hand above her head and is holding a torch, which is also popularly known as the torch of enlightenment. At the feet of the lady, you'll be able to see broken shackles attached to a chain. The broken shackles symbolize the complete abolition of slavery in the United States.

The Statue of Liberty was built and given to the Americans in order to commemorate the joint French and American struggle in the American revolution. The French political thinkers thought that this move on France's part would inspire the people of France to choose democracy over any other form of government, as at that time, France was greatly divided among two sets of people. Conservationists wanted to retain the monarchy, and liberals were in favor of democracy.

After reading these interesting facts about the color of the Statue of Liberty, be sure to check out our facts on Sobek, the Egyptian god, and space trains.

What was the original color of the Statue of Liberty?

Did you know that the Statue Of Liberty did not always have a greenish tint to it, and it is not the original color of the statue? The statue changed color over time on its own due to oxidation. You may wonder what the statue initially looked like.

The Statue of Liberty is made entirely of steel with a coat of shiny copper on top. It was originally a shiny shade of brown, and after a couple of decades, it slowly turned to a dull brown color that resembled a copper penny. It is said that enough copper was used in the making of the statue to make 30,000 copper pennies. Later, due to the process of oxidation, combined with other factors like humidity, acid rain, and pollution, the color turned to a dull brown and then eventually to the famous blue-green color due to oxidation.

Not only the color but even the initial design of the Statue of Liberty was different than what we can see now. In 2019, a Twitter thread became very popular, stating that the Statue of Liberty was initially a black lady in order to symbolize the end of slavery in America. However, the design was rejected by the US government, who changed it to a white lady.

The initial design of the Statue of Liberty was inspired by an Arab peasant lady draped in a loose robe, holding the torch of enlightenment in her hand. This design was chosen to represent Egypt and to honor the construction of the Suez Canal in Egypt in that year. The lady was also veiled and was initially meant to represent Egypt carrying the light to Asia. The Egyptian government turned down this proposal because they thought that it was too expensive.

This initial design evolved to that of the colossal goddess that inspired the famous Statue of Liberty. The statue of the lady that we see today is of the Roman Goddess Libertas, the goddess of liberty. The lead sculptor had imagined the statue covered in pure gold leaves, but since the idea could not be used due to budget restraints, later on, the US government gold-plated the flame of the torch to honor the idea.

Why won't the Statue of Liberty be reconditioned to its original copper color?

The Statue of Liberty wasn't always the color it is now; its green color is, in fact, the result of years of oxidation and pollution.

You may be curious as to why the US government doesn't restore the statue to its former copper color, as it is a monument of national importance.

The government has a special budget and an organization that takes care of repair and restoration of heritage monuments, but even if the government of the USA tries to renovate the statue, they would have to strip the oxidized copper and add a new layer, which would also start to tarnish after a couple of decades. Repeating the process again and again would result in a lot of unnecessary expenses. Furthermore, every time this process would be repeated, a portion of the statue would weaken, meaning the statue would collapse within a century.

A team of about 24 people belonging to the National Park Service is dedicated to taking proper care of the statue, but did you know that despite all the maintenance, the statue hasn't ever been washed?

The statue has undergone major restoration work and maintenance in its 130 years of existence but has never been washed because washing can do a lot of damage to the statue. This is because water can speed up the tarnishing process. Removing the top green layer would expose fresh copper sheets that would become susceptible to tarnishing. Repeating the process would corrode the statue completely.

When sulfuric acid mixes with copper oxides on the statue, it turns into a green color.

Why did the statue change color?

Let us closely examine why the statue turned green and how we ended up with the recognizable color of the world-famous Statue of Liberty.

We all know that, when copper comes into contact with moisture, it sets off the process of oxidation and turns green and blue. It is the same process that causes copper rings and jewelry to turn our skin green-blue when they come into contact with water or sweat. The Statue of Liberty is situated directly above the Pacific Ocean, which makes it more susceptible to tarnishing sooner as the area is much more humid than other areas of the country.

Over time, as copper comes in contact with air, the topmost layer reacts with oxygen, and an additional green-blue colored layer is formed. This is known as green patina or verdigris. The green-blue color gets more prominent. With time, the patina (the thin surface layer) grows. The patina has been growing on the statue for more than a century, facilitated by other factors such as pollution and acid rain. The chemical reaction that takes place is as follows.

The first stage, which occurs as soon as the copper is exposed and starts to react with oxygen, is known as the redox process, in which the electrons from the copper metal shift towards the oxygen. This equation can be represented as follows:

2Cu+ O2 ---> Cu2O

The copper then continues to react with the oxygen and turns to copper oxide, which can be black in color due to the chemical reaction.

This chemical reaction, combined with other factors such as carbon dioxide and pollution, leads to a green patina being formed. This can be shown with the following equation:

2CuO + CO2+ H2O ------> Cu2CO3(OH)2

Did France know that the Statue of Liberty would turn green?

It is common knowledge that the color of copper tarnishes after coming into contact with air and moisture. There is no way that the sculpture wouldn't have known that, which may lead you to wonder if they knew that the statue could change color over time. If they did, why did they still go through with the idea? Was it an innocent mistake? Let's take a closer look to find out.

The famous French sculptor Bartholdi wanted to cover the entire steel statue in a layer of gold leaf so that the statue would shine under the sun and could be seen from very far away. Another reason behind choosing gold was because gold doesn't tarnish or react with air, which basically makes it everlasting.

However, the French could not raise enough donations and funds to make that happen; therefore, the second option Bartholdi considered was copper. While making the statue with copper sheets, he was aware that the statue would turn green-blue. However, it was one of the factors that made copper a favorable choice for the monument.

This is because once the green patina layer forms, it protects the metal underneath; therefore, the metal never corrodes, which means that the Statue of Liberty won't even be damaged in a thousand years.

Did You Know...

You must have seen the Statue of Liberty live or in a picture and noticed that it is holding a book in its left hand and may have wondered what that book was. Is it a Bible?

The lady is not holding a Bible. In fact, she is holding a book known as 'tabula ansata', which stands for the Declaration of Independence. As the Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom and liberty, she is holding a tablet in her hand on which the date of independence of the USA is inscribed, which is July 4, 1776.

Did you know that there is a balcony around the gold-plated torch of the Statue of Liberty, which was once open to visitors? Sadly, it was closed for visitors after the Black Tom explosion that caused a lot of havoc and panic among visitors.

However, you can go inside the Statue of Liberty and climb from the pedestal to the crown if you have no underlying health issues like heart diseases, claustrophobia, respiratory issues or obesity. This is because there are about 354 steps inside the statue and the stairs are quite uncomfortable and steep, which makes it difficult to climb. There isn't much ventilation inside the statue, and it tends to get very hot inside in summers. If you have any such problems, you can take a normal ticket and roam around on the pedestal and other grounds. Less than 250 people are permitted to climb up from the pedestal at a time.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our Statue of Liberty facts, then why not take a look at our Shetland Sheepdog facts or white rose symbolism facts?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

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