Inspired by descriptions of the Colossus of Rhodes, the young FrÃ©dÃ©ric Auguste Bartholdi first envisioned building a monumental statue of a slave woman holding a lamp that would serve as a lighthouse for Ferdinand de Lessepsâs proposed Suez Canal. But after he failed to win this commission, and in the chaotic wake of the Franco-Prussian War, Bartholdi set off for America, where he saw the perfect site for his statue: Bedloeâs Island in New York Harbor. Before long, he was organizing the construction of a massive copper woman in a Paris workshop. Through spectacular displays of the statueâs arm and torch in Philadelphia at the 1876 Worldâs Fair, and the statueâs head at the 1878 Paris Exhibition, along with other creative fundraising efforts, Bartholdi himself collected almost all of the money required to build the statue. Meanwhile, he brought luminaries including Gustave Eiffel, Victor Hugo, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Pulitzer, and Emma Lazarus into his scheme. Moving from the black waters of the Nile to the revolution-torn boulevards of Paris, to the muddy streets of New York, Liberty's Torch tells the story of an artist, entrepreneur and inventor who fought against all odds to create this wonder of the modern world.
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