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Robert McNamara

Newspaper Sunday: Opening of the Statue of Liberty

By October 28, 2012

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Today is the 126th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, which officially opened on October 28, 1886. The statue is reopening to the public today after being closed for a year for some interior renovation and repair.

Attention today seems focused on preparations for Hurricane Sandy, and not on Lady Liberty. And, vintage newspapers reveal that the original ceremonies in 1886 were hampered by the weather, as the big day turned out to be cold and very rainy.

This week in Newspaper Sunday we take a look back at coverage of the 1886 events surrounding the opening of the Statue of Liberty.

  • New York Tribune, October 29, 1886: Bad weather put a damper on the festivities, but a large parade traveled down Fifth Avenue in New York City. A party of dignitaries led by President Grover Cleveland then boarded ships in the Hudson River to travel to the statue for the dedication ceremony.
  • Maysville Kentucky Daily Evening Bulletin, October 29, 1886: The news of the statue's unveiling traveled by telegraph and made the front page in Kentucky.
  • New York Sun, October 29, 1886: A headline noted that a "city afloat," the flotilla assembled for the ceremony, had been hidden in fog.
  • New York Tribune, October 31, 1886: Days after the official opening of the statue, workmen dangling on ropes could still be seen working on the outer skin.
  • New York Sun, November 2, 1886: A week after the dedication festivities, the Statue of Liberty's electric torch was tested. The torch lighting was successful, but the military officer who designed the lighting for the outside of the statue admitted he still had problems to solve.

Note: After accessing the article excerpts, you can click the "persistent link" to view the entire newspaper page at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress.


Illustration: The Statue of Liberty being assembled in New York/Library of Congress

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