What Is The Statue Of Liberty Made Of: The Copper and Iron Tale of the Statue of Liberty

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: June 5, 2023

The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and a testament to the engineering and artistic prowess of the time. Every aspect of the statue has a story, from the materials used in its construction to the symbolism embedded in its design. In this article, we will explore the history of the Statue of Liberty, the materials that make up this iconic monument, and the meaning behind its design.

History and Construction of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States to celebrate the centennial of America's independence. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and constructed with the assistance of engineer Gustave Eiffel, the statue was completed in France in 1884 before being disassembled, shipped across the Atlantic, and reassembled on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and has since become one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States.

Materials Used in the Construction of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was built using two primary materials: copper and iron. These materials were chosen not only for their aesthetic qualities but also for their durability and resistance to the elements.

Copper Skin on Statue of Liberty


The most visible material used in the construction of the Statue of Liberty is copper. The outer skin of the statue, which gives it its greenish hue, is made of copper sheets, about 3/32 of an inch thick. Approximately 31 tons of copper were used to create the statue's exterior.

One of the reasons for using copper in the construction of the statue was its malleability. Copper is a soft, malleable metal that can be easily shaped and formed into intricate details. This characteristic made it an ideal choice for sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who created the stunning folds of the statue's robe and the delicate features of her face using this versatile material.

Over time, the copper has undergone a natural oxidation process, forming a green patina on the surface. This patina gives the statue its distinctive color and acts as a protective layer, preventing further corrosion and preserving the underlying metal.

If you're visiting New York City, be sure to buy tickets to see the statue on Liberty Island, where you'll be able to appreciate this fantastic transformation of color fully. 

Statue of Liberty Inner Framework


While the copper skin is the most visible part of the Statue of Liberty, it is supported by an internal iron framework. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the engineer behind the famous Eiffel Tower, designed this framework. Eiffel's innovative design used iron bars and trusses to create a flexible yet strong skeleton capable of supporting the immense weight of the copper skin and enabling the statue to withstand strong winds, temperature changes, and other environmental factors.

The iron framework consists of four massive iron columns, which rise from the pedestal and form the backbone of the statue. These columns are connected by iron trusses and crossbars, creating a rigid lattice structure. This lattice not only supports the statue's weight but also allows for the distribution of forces across the entire framework, ensuring the statue's stability and longevity.

The combination of copper and iron in the construction of the Statue of Liberty enabled the creation of a genuinely remarkable and enduring monument. The statue's unique blend of artistry and engineering is a testament to the skill and vision of the individuals involved in its design and construction.

Design and Symbolism of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is not just an impressive piece of engineering but also a symbol of freedom, democracy, and the enduring friendship between France and the United States. The statue's design is rich with symbolism, from the torch she holds aloft to the broken chains at her feet.

The torch represents enlightenment, illuminating the path to freedom and democracy. The statue's crown features seven rays, each symbolizing a continent and, thus, the universality of liberty. In her left hand, she holds a tablet inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) to emphasize the importance of this foundational document.

The statue's feet lie broken chains, symbolizing the breaking free from tyranny and oppression. The statue faces east, towards Europe, serving as a beacon of hope and a welcoming symbol for immigrants arriving on America's shores in search of a better life.

The Statue of Liberty also showcases the popular neoclassical style during its construction. The statue's appearance is reminiscent of the Roman goddess Libertas, embodying the ideals of liberty and freedom. The flowing robes and classical features of the statue evoke a sense of timeless beauty and strength.

Overall, the Statue of Liberty is a testament to the power of human ingenuity, artistic expression, and the enduring values of freedom and democracy. The monument's unique blend of materials, engineering, and symbolism ensures it remains an iconic symbol for future generations. As you admire the statue and delve into its history, you can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into its creation. The Statue of Liberty truly is a marvel of human achievement and a lasting symbol of the ideals that unite us all.