Why is Lady Liberty’s torch in Madison Square?

It’s very strange to see the Statue of Liberty’s enormous hand and torch parked in front of the western side of Madison Square—a genteel, elite neighborhood at the end of the 19th century.

But it all came down to fund-raising, and Madison Square was where the money was.

The hand and torch were placed in the park from 1876 to 1882 to get enough donations from Americans to complete the pedestal (the statue itself was the financial responsibility of the French).

Cash was coming in slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer, editor of The World, stepped in.”Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds,” reports this Statue of Liberty website.

“Pulitzer’s campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.”

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11 Responses to “Why is Lady Liberty’s torch in Madison Square?”

  1. Richard Says:

    1876?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Yes! Thanks, fixed it.

  3. Beth Says:

    There’s a whole segment in Time and Again by Jack Finney where the arm plays a crucial part in the story. Really good book about 1870s NYC.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    I have that on my reading list that I never get to, thanks!

    • rocco dormarunno(akafivepointsguy) Says:

      You HAVE to read the book, just for the fun of it. But beware, Finney tends to be WAY too romantic about the period. There is scarcely any mention of poverty, Five Points, disease, etc. However, it is a richly-detailed, and for the most part, accurate look at New York City in 1882.

      • wildnewyork Says:

        Okay, I’m moving it to the top of my reading list! I’ve always heard good things about the book, and I always enjoy checking out someone else’s New York.

  5. chickenunderwear Says:

    Time and Again by Jack Finney

    Great NYC book. GREAT

  6. Lisa Says:

    Wow! Never knew “the hand” once graced Madison Square– how wonderful!

    I think we should raise funds to reinstall an exact replica! Waaay better than the artsy-fartsy stuff currently displayed in the park.

  7. roodonfood Says:

    My first visit. I love your site! Sometimes history is right under your nose.

  8. Detour: Last Day on Governor’s Island « Attempted Art Jargon Says:

    [...] in trying to dig up information about the maker of Lady Liberty’s buried head, I found this fun little article (and awesome picture!) about the fundraising for the pedestal of the Statue of [...]

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