Liberty Unveiled
America Accepts the Gift of the French People


A city afloat hid in fog

And a Million or So of People Ashore Making Holiday in the Wet


The giant statue shrouded in mists like a mountain top — No seeing her from shore and no hearing the great guns — A fine parade reviewed by President Cleveland — The naval procession invisible even from ship to ship — The phantom fleet makes itself heard, though — Orations under the Statue by Evaris, de Pew and de Lesseps, and a speech of acceptance from President Cleveland — The bronze lady get ahead of Senator Evaris and dropped her veil before her invited her to — The great crowds in the streets — The torch not yet alight — No fireworks


Much like Paris, as tourists say New York is, the resemblance can never have been more striking than it was at 8 o’clock yesterday morning, when the streets were filled with the military, uniformed civilians and police; the strains of the “Marseillaise” sounded everywhere and the tricolor of the French republic floated from roof top windows and balconies, together with our own glorious Stars and Stripes.

Twenty thousand men in uniforms were to march down Fifth Avenue and Broadway to the Battery with flags and bands of music, and a million people more or less came out to see the sight. They moved from the east and west through the side streets and blocked the walks alone the line of march, many of them in gay attire, all of them in gay holiday spirits.

But it was not an auspicious day for a celebration. The gayety of the early morning which withstood the dismal aspect of the clouds gave way in an hour.

What was at first but a moist atmosphere became a mist and presently a drizzle, and long before the procession had reached the Battery, the colossal statue of Liberty out on Bedloe’s Island, which all this noise and music and demonstration generally were to do honor to, was muffled up invisible in a regular London fog, and the tremendous firing of cannon down the bay from unseen warships was either totally inaudible ashore or sounded as if somebody were slamming doors.

>> Pictures of the Statue of Liberty’s construction (1886)

Everyone cordially hoped on Wednesday night that a patriotic weather bureau would see to it that the storm should blow ovor and leave the day unclouded, if possible, but at any rate dry. But the rain continued all night long and pretty much all day yesterday, and on that account, the decorations of buildings along the line of march were not as general as they might have been, nor as elaborate.

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The City Hall was the only public building in town which was notable by reason of the display of bunting. Flags and banners, arranged with taste, set off its beautiful front splendidly, and long streamers of small flags festooned from the dome heightened the effect. The Post Office building was also tastefully draped with American and French flags.

Up about the starting point in Fifth Avenue, just south of the park, there were many small flags, as there were indeed from windows and balconies all the way down to the Battery. French flags floated over the Brunswick, and the Hoffman House, where the French guests are quartered, was gay with streamers of red, white and blue. The Hotel Bartholdi, too, was covered with bunting, and from the Albemarle and Fifth Avenue Hotels fluttered colored streamers. Across Park row, between the World office and the Post Office building, was an arch of evergreens.


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About this story

Source publication: New York Sun (New York, NY)

Source publication date: October 29, 1886

Notes:  Top image:  "Liberty Enlightening the World" / Inauguration of the Bartholdi Statue, Harbor of New York / Military and Naval Salute the President's arrival at Liberty Island / Taken from Steamer "Patrol" 28 October 1886. Color image: A painting of the dedication by Edward Moran, 1886.

Filed under: 1880s, Culture & lifestyle, Events, Featured, Newspapers, Places

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