The Statue of Liberty Before It Was Green

Did it ever occur to you that the official greeter of New York, the Statue of Liberty, wasn’t always green? Constructed in Paris in the 1880’s, the statue was made with an exterior of untreated copper, which as many know from seeing old neglected pennies, slowly turns green over time through oxidation (not so the ones in your pocket, as they are slowly polished through friction). The builders of the statue clearly knew that over time the lady would turn a dull green, but think of how it must have originally appeared as new immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, shining a warm welcome in the New York sun.

The image above, Photoshopped by Shaun Sanders over at Hipmunk, looks something like what the original would have.

Below: The statue under construction in Paris, France. It clearly shows a metallic, copper finish.
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Below: A diorama built by Frenchman Bartholdi in about 1880 depicts the statue under construction in its original color (probably a closer resemblance to the true copper hue).
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Below: Interestingly, the new de Young museum in San Francisco is slowly taking the same path towards a green future. The extremely modern building is sheathed in a copper facade which is already starting to show the signs of age. As planned, the museum will slowly blend in with it’s natural surroundings in Golden Gate Park.
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Below: the walls of the de Young are perforated and textured to replicate the impression of dappled light filtering through a tree canopy. Here we see the walls transitioning to a black color which will eventually change to green.
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Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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  1. Arthur Dentsays:

    I live in Ottawa, Canada, where most of the old, iconic buildings have copper roofs. They replaced the roof of the Château Laurier recently, and it has been interesting to watch the slow colour progression. It started as a brilliant, fiery copper. Now, a year later, it is dark brown; it’s almost black. I look forward to seeing it turn green.

  2. The older CP hotels in Canada all have Copper roofs. They would collect urine from the workmen and mop the roofs to force the oxidation to green.

  3. I am carrying out some exploration for the same subject. It was of true support.

  4. Barc777says:

    The new roof of the SC State House was the pink of new copper when it was renovated. It’s evolved to brown now. There may even be some green oxidation becoming evident.

  5. TV Johnsays:

    The domes of the Royal Observatory at Herstmonceux, Sussex, England were also made from copper so that they would turn green and blend in with the environment. Since this was completed in 1957 it was pretty forward environmental thinking for the time.

  6. amnasays:

    Wow this is pretty Awesome :)

  7. Looks very good.

  8. i love this it helped me alot for my research on the statue of liberty

  9. Charlottesays:

    cool! i did not k now the statue of liberty was actually copper!

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