For the more than twelve million immigrants processed through nearby Ellis Island from 1895 to 1924, the Statue of Liberty was their first glimpse of America and became a lasting symbol of the freedom they sought. Today, the Statue of Liberty remains a beacon to the world's oppressed and a reminder to all Americans of the freedom that many take for granted. The exterior copper shell of the Statue of Liberty, originally called Liberty Enlightening the World, was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The wrought-iron pylon inside was the work of Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel Tower.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French to the American people to mark the 1876 centennial celebration. The statue was completed in Paris and unveiled in New York Harbor on October 26, 1886. Inscribed on the statue is the sonnet The New Colossus by American poet Emma Lazarus. It is best known for its closing lines: Give me your tired, your poor Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!