The Statue of Liberty has been a landmark in New York harbor since 1886, but the story of the sculpture begins about 20 years earlier.
In 1865 a French writer and lawyer, Edouard de Laboulaye, first came up with the idea of the statue. Laboulaye had a keen interest in the United States, and had written essays in support of the Union cause during the Civil War. At the war’s conclusion he had the idea of creating a massive statue celebrating the concept of liberty. He wanted the statue to be a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France.
The sculptor Fredric-Auguste Bartholdi, a friend of Laboulaye, would make the grand statue his obsession. Bartholdi was already known for large-scale sculptures, and he began trying to arouse interest, as well as raise funds, for a large statue in New York in the early 1870s.
In 1871 Bartholdi sailed to America, and when entering New York harbor he realized he had found the perfect location for the statue he envisioned.