Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi’s Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head. Winter 1882. Photo via Library of Congress.

An emblem of New York and a symbol for freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France as a gesture of goodwill between the two countries. Today marks the 127th anniversary of the dedication in 1886 (it’s also the 50th anniversary of the demolition of Penn Station). While we know there are nice vintage photographs of the completed Statue of Liberty itself, we wanted to share with you some of the many photographs of it under construction, which means lots of Statue of Liberty body parts sitting by themselves in incongruous places.

Proposed by French politician Edoard Labouaye in 1870 and designed by sculptor Frederic Bartholdi, the neoclassical sculpture elicited generally favorable reactions from the French, who funded the statue itself. It was finally completed in 1884.

Head of the Statue of Liberty on display in Paris in 1883. Photo via Library of Congress. Photograph by Albert Fernique.

The United States, for their part, was expected to build the pedestal, but fundraising proved a difficult task: Americans were critical of the statue, claiming that the U.S. shouldn’t have to contribute to a gift meant for them. It wasn’t until Joseph Pulitzer stepped in, announcing a fundraising drive. He promised to print the name of every contributor on his newspapers and even printed the notes he received from them. Although 80% of donations were less than $1, Pulitzer raised $102,000, equivalent to over $2.3 million today.

The pedestal wasn’t completed until 1885, after which France disassembled the colossal statue and shipped the parts to the United States to be reassembled here.

The hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty on display in Madison Square Park. Photo via New York Public Library.

Statue of Liberty torch at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Photo via Library of Congress

Photo from New York Public Library

Photo from New York Public Library

Photo from New York Public Library

Photo from New York Public Library

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