The history behind the Statue of Liberty



The history behind the Statue of Liberty

Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit New York City, you know that one of its most popular tourist attractions is the Statue of Liberty. Also known as Lady Liberty, this statue has been a welcome sight in New York’s harbor for over a century. But what about the backstory behind this beautiful statue? The Statue of Liberty may be full of symbolism, but she also has a rich history that most people don’t know.

The statue was a joint effort

Credit: studiocasper / iStock

Most people think that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French to the United States, but the story runs deeper than this. Yes, the statue was a gift to commemorate a strong alliance between France and the U.S., but both countries agreed to financially contribute to the overall build. While France focused on fundraising and crafting the actual statue, America committed to building the base and covering those costs.

Funding issues stalled progress on the statue

Credit: Stas_V / iStock

To say that building the Statue of Liberty was a monumental effort is a bit of an understatement. The French historian Edouard de Laboulaye initially pitched the idea for the statue in 1865 with a goal of completion for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. But raising funds was so difficult that actual production on the statue didn’t begin until 1875. Finances weren’t just an issue for the French. The U.S. delegation also struggled to raise money to build the pedestal.

It took a decade to create the statue

Credit: GCShutter / iStock

In 1875, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi began working on the statue. He was known for creating large-scale sculptures and was awarded the commission. While he knew how to create the statue’s exterior, he worked with Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (who created the Eiffel Tower) and Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc to create a sturdy steel framework to attach the copper sheets. Bartholdi completed production on the statue in 1884.

Creating the pedestal

Credit: Kirill Sergeev /

While the French were hard at work on the statue, the Americans focused on finding a location, funding, designing, and building the pedestal where the statue would sit. To raise funds, several inventive methods were used including contests, fundraisers and exhibitions. One such contest involved the iconic sonnet that is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the statue. “The New Colossus” was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, who won one of the contests. Her sonnet includes these memorable lines: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” However, this plaque wouldn’t be added to the pedestal until 1903.

As completion of the statue neared, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The World newspaper, used his paper to secure final funding. He leveraged his opinion column to shame wealthy readers into donating toward the pedestal—and it worked. Meanwhile, the American architect Richard Morris Hunt was tapped as the winning designer for the pedestal. He created a granite pedestal in 1884 and donated his production fee toward funding the statue. The U.S. delegation selected Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island as the statue’s home in Upper New York Bay. Final funding for the pedestal ended in August 1885, and in April 1886, the pedestal was completely built.

Reassembly and dedication

Credit: Albert Fernique [Public domain]

How do you transport a statue that is 151 feet (46 meters)? You don’t just strap it to a barge and hope for the best. After Bartholdi finished production on the Statue of Liberty, it had to be disassembled and packed in over 200 crates to ship to the U.S. for reassembly. The statue didn’t arrive in New York until June 1885. Once on Bedloe’s Island, it took four months to completely reassemble it. On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland oversaw the dedication for the Statue of Liberty in front of a large crowd of well-wishers.

Name changes and jurisdiction

Credit: tupungato / iStock

Most people don’t know what Bedloe’s Island or Fort Wood is, let alone where they are located. But present-day Liberty Island underwent name and designation changes before it became what we know it as today. The island and the statue were initially maintained by the United States Lighthouse Board because the statue’s torch was used as a beacon by sailors. In 1901, the War Department took control of the lands even when Fort Wood was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.

In 1933, the grounds officially fell under the control of the National Park Service. On September 7, 1937, the National Monument grounds were expanded to include all of Bedloe’s Park, and the island was officially renamed to Liberty Island. In 1965, after Ellis Island was shuttered as an immigration point, it became part of the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Two hikers die after falling from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park



Two hikers die after falling from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park

Officials at Yosemite National Park, California are investigating the deaths of a man and a woman who fell from a popular overlook that allows visitors to walk to the cliff’s edge, where there is no railing, an official said. (Oct. 26) AP


Two visitors have died in Yosemite National Park after falling from an overlook, the National Parks Service said in a statement Thursday.

Park rangers were trying to recover the bodies of the man and woman who fell from Taft Point, a popular overlook at an elevation of 7,500 feet, as of 2 p.m. ET. The deaths are being investigated, but no other information is available yet, including the identities of the visitors, the statement said. Yosemite is located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

This is not the first time this year visitors have faced danger in Yosemite. Tomer Frankfurter, an Israeli teenager, fell to his death from Nevada Fall last month. Two hikers died in June while climbing El Capitan, and another died while climbing Half Dome in May.

National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks



National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks

Madison Park, CNN • Published 25th October 2017
(CNN) — The National Park Service proposes more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
Under the agency’s proposal, the entrance fee for a private vehicle would jump to $70 during peak season, from its current rate of $25 to $30.
The cost for a motorcycle entering the park could increase to $50, from the current fee of $15 to $25. The cost for people entering the park on foot or on bike could go to $30, up from the current rate of $10 to $15.
The cost of the annual pass, which permits entrance into all federal lands and parks, would remain at $80.
The proposal would affect the following 17 national parks during the 2018 peak season:
  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Denali
  • Glacier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Teton
  • Olympic
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion
  • Acadia
  • Mount Rainier
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Shenandoah
  • Joshua Tree
Peak pricing would affect each park’s busiest five months for visitors.
The National Park Service said the increase would help pay for badly needed improvements, including to roads, bridges, campgrounds, water-line’s, bathrooms and other visitor services at the parks. The fee hikes could also boost national park revenue by $70 million per year, it said.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
Of the 417 national park sites, 118 charge an entrance fee.
The National Park service has opened the proposal to public comments for 30 days at its website.
The proposal was blasted by the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonpartisan advocacy group.
“We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit,” the group’s president and CEO Theresa Pierno said in a statement. “The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.”
The South Kaibab Trail drops to the Colorado River in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in just under seven miles. Numerous day hike options turn around at phenomenal viewpoints if you don’t want to commit to an overnight trip to the bottom of the canyon.
Ben Adkison
“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs,” Pierno said. “If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog.”
On the National Park Service’s Facebook page, some commented that the proposal was reasonable since it was going to improve and maintain the parks. Others lamented that it would price working class people out of making trips that they had saved up for.
Entrance fees at several national parks, including Mount Rainer, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, went up in 2015 to their current price.
Those fee increases didn’t seem to deter visitors. In 2016, National Park Services received a record-breaking 331 million visits, which marked a 7.7% increase over 2015. It was the park service’s third consecutive all-time attendance record.
Most popular National Parks in 2016 (59 total)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park — 11,312,786 million visitors
Grand Canyon National Park — 5,969,811
Yosemite National Park — 5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park — 4,517,585
Zion National Park — 4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park — 4,257,177
Olympic National Park — 3,390,221
Acadia National Park — 3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park — 3,270,076
Glacier National Park — 2,946,681

A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern


A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern

This is mountain lion kitten known as P-54 found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It is the only known kitten from P-23’s third litter, according to the National Park Service.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Admit it. You only clicked on this story because of the photo of that insanely cute mountain lion kitten. You just wanted to gaze into her (yes, it’s a her) milky blue eyes.

That’s fair.

But there’s more to the story of this kitten. Researchers have named her P-54. She’s no more than a few months old. And – this is the sad part – it’s likely that she’s the product of inbreeding.

The kitten was born amidst the urban sprawl of Southern California in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the country. The recreation area is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields and greater Los Angeles.

“Think of it like an island,” says Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the National Park Service, who’s been tracking the park’s mountain lions in its steep chaparral-covered canyons for more than a decade. “[The mountain lions] are pretty much hemmed in by freeways and development on all sides.”

As a result, few cats – or other wildlife, for that matter – are able to come and go, so adult mountain lions resort to inbreeding. Researchers know that the kitten’s mother is P-23. And they suspect the father is P-23’s half-brother, P-30. They’re waiting for genetic testing to confirm their suspicions.

Sikich says it’s unlikely that P-30 or other mountain lions know they’re inbreeding. Male mountain lions don’t stick around to raise their kids. But the results of inbreeding could be devastating to the population’s future.

Limited genetic diversity can lead to mutations and abnormalities. Sikich points to the Florida panther, a population that almost went extinct from inbreeding. Researchers started to find genetic defects in the animals – holes in the heart, kinked tails and low sperm counts – before wildlife managers introduced outside panthers into the population to mix things up.

The same thing could start to happen in the Santa Monica Mountains. Sikich says they’ve only seen one outside mountain lion come into the park in the last 12 years. Others have been turned away by the freeways or killed by passing cars.

“If that was to stay the same into the future, we could get to that Florida panther level in roughly 35 years,” he says. “And then once we hit those levels, we can see pretty much 99 percent extinction within roughly 15 years.”

P-54 is a healthy kitten, Sikich says. And she’ll have a better chance at long-term survival than she would if she was a boy. Most male mountain lions are killed by the park’s dominant cats when they get old enough to leave their mother. Without a way to disperse outside of the mountains, they’re put in competition with the older males.

And it’s not all bad. Sikich and other researchers are encouraged and excited that the kitten was born.

“They are successfully reproducing and raising their young, which is a good thing,” Sikich says.

That’s impressive, he says, when you consider they’re large carnivores living just outside the second-largest urban area in the U.S. And the lessons they’re learning by studying the animals and how they survive in an urban and fragmented habitat could be used in other parts of the country. The National Wildlife Federation says that habitat loss, like that caused by fragmentation, is the biggest threat to wildlife in the U.S.

Park officials and wildlife advocates are hoping to address the fragmentation by building a wildlife overpass, which would connect the Santa Monica Mountains with other wilderness in Southern California. The proposed overpass would bridge over Route 101, a busy highway.

There are challenges to getting the project done, but Sikich is optimistic that the overpass will be built, giving future mountain lion kittens a better chance at long-term success.

Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii


Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii

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