La Liberté éclairant le monde or 'Liberty Enlightening the World' is how the Statue of Liberty is known in France, where she originated. The Statue was reopened on the 4th of July after extensive Superstorm Sandy repairs. My local area newspapers discussed the beauty and wonder of Lady Liberty and the 77 million dollar repair pricetag, but they did not mention her French connection at all.
It seems that Americans prefer to forget that our symbol of Liberty is actually a French ex-pat, born in Paris, who emigrated here on the French steamer Isère in 1885. Sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi began construction in his Paris workshop before full funding was available. The French provided money for the statue and the Americans were to provide the island site and build the pedestal. We dragged our heels and almost neglected this gift. Grover Cleveland, when he was governor of New York, vetoed a bill to provide $50,000 for the statue. The democrats in Congress turned down a $100,000 appropriation to complete the project. It was early version of crowdfunding that financed completion of the pedestal after construction was stopped in 1884. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World newspaper in New York sponsored a drive and printed the stories of small donors to the fund. Can you imagine Americans contributing today to have a French statue built in the US?
And now for a bit of trivia:
How many Statues of Liberty are there in Paris today?
#1: Île aux Cygnes
This statue was donated by American ex-pats living in Paris and sits on a man-made island in the Seine near the Pont de Grenelle. Originally she faced the Eiffel Tower but was later turned to face her sister in New York.
This version also experienced a switcheroo. Until last year, the statue was the very first Lady Liberty, the original model Bartholdi used for his later and larger New York statue. However, in 2011 she was vandalized and her flame was stolen. The city was embarassed to have allowed her to deteriorate and so had a mold made and then a new bronze cast to replace her in le jardin du Luxembourg. The original then went to Tours for resoration and cleaning.
#3: Musée d'Orsay
The statue 'Napoleon waking to immortality' was moved to the Louvre to make room for the restored Luxembourg Gardens Lady Liberty where she now stands in Napoleon's spot on the first floor central walkway.
#4: Musée des Arts et Métiers
This is one of the most underappreciated museums in Paris. It has been housed in the old priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in the 3rd arrondissement since its founding in 1794. It's a celebration of scientific invention and the place to go to see the original Foucault pendulum, Daguerre's camera, the Lumière brothers' Cinematograph, Pascal's calculating machine from 1642 (!) and many more important discoveries. They have an original plaster of the Statue of Liberty, a bronze casting from it and exhibits on the engineering issues involved in its construction. If you are travelling with children in Paris, this is a must-see museum that will prove far more interesting to them than the Louvre.
#5: non-official Ladies of Liberty
Of course, you'll find her featured for sale and in advertisements throughout Paris, like at Le Fil Rouge, an 'American' café in the 10th arrondissement.