The Statue of Liberty is coated with a thin layer of copper, which turns a blue-green with age due to chemical reactions between metal and water. This process is known as patination and occurs with most copper when it’s placed outside.
The true color of the Statue of Liberty before patination was a shiny reddish brown color. The photo to the right shows a replica of the statue and what the Statue of Liberty’s original color would look like.
The Statue of Liberty is made of an iron frame with a sheet of pure copper hung over it. The torch flame is so bright because it is coated in gold leaf instead of copper. However, it wasn’t always that way—the flame, too, was originally coated in copper. During renovations to the statue in 1916, Gutzon Borglum, the man who sculpted Mount Rushmore, was appointed to cut away much of the copper surface of the torch’s flame and install glass windows. Snow and rain leaked in through the windows, aiding in corrosion. In the mid-1980s (the statue’s 100th birthday), the old torch was removed due to excessive damage and placed in the monument’s museum. The replacement torch is now covered with gold leaf.
That’s right, until the restoration of 1986, the torch acted as a lighthouse for ships coming into New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty was the first lighthouse to use electric lamps. The government had to reserve a whole energy plant just to power the statue!